We use will:

  • to talk about the future – to say what we believe will happen
  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do
  • to make promises and offers

would is the past tense form of will. Because it is a past tense it is used:

  • to talk about the past.
  • to talk about hypotheses – things that are imagined rather than true.
  • for politeness.

Beliefs

We use will

  • to say what we believe will happen in the future:

We'll be late.
We will have to take the train.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to say what we believed would happen:

I thought I would be late …… so I would have to take the train.

Offers and promises

We use I will or We will to make offers and promises:

I’ll give you a lift home after the party.
We will come and see you next week.

Willingness

  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do:

We’ll see you tomorrow.
Perhaps dad will lend me the car.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to talk about what people wanted to do or were willing to do:

We had a terrible night. The baby wouldn’t go to sleep. He kept waking up and crying.
Dad wouldn’t lend me the car, so we had to take the train.

  • to talk about something that we did often in the past because we wanted to do it:

When they were children they used to spend their holidays at their grandmother’s at the seaside. They would get up early every morning and they’d have a quick breakfast then they would run across the road to the beach.

Conditionals

We use will in conditionals with if and unless to say what we think will happen in the future or present:

I’ll give her a call if I can find her number.
You won’t get in unless you have a ticket.

We use would to talk about hypotheses, about something which is possible but not real:

  • to talk about the result or effect of a possible situation:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel.

  • in conditionals with words like if and what if. In these sentences the main verb is usually in the past tense:

I would give her a call if I could find her number.
If I had the money I'd buy a new car.
You would lose weight if you took more exercise.
If he got a new job he would probably make more money.
What if he lost his job. What would happen then?

We use conditionals to give advice:

Dan will help you if you ask him.

Past tenses are more polite:

Dan would help you if you asked him.

Phrases with would:

  • would you…, would you mind (not) -ing, for requests:

Would you carry this for me please?
Would you mind carrying this?
Would you mind not telling him that?

  • would you like ...; would you like to ...,  for offers and invitations:

Would you like to come round to morrow?
Would you like another drink?

  • I would like …; I’d like … (you)(to) ..., to say what we want or what we want to do:

I’d like that one please.
I’d like to go home now.

  • I’d rather… (I would rather) to say what we prefer:

I’d rather have that one.
I’d rather go home now.

  • I would thinkI would imagine, I'd guess, to give an opinion when we are not sure or when we want to be polite:

It’s very difficult I would imagine.
I would think that’s the right answer.

 

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

1. I would not go to the party.
2. I would not advice you to do that.
3. I would say you are gonna get this.
please, tell me the meaning of would in above sentences.

Thank you

Hello jodu23,

In 1, you're talking about an imaginary situation, which is why 'would' is appropriate. It's as if the sentence were a second conditional: 'I would not go to the party if I were you'.

In 2 and 3, 'would' is being used to be less direct, which makes a statement more polite in English in general.

If you'd like to see more examples of these different uses of 'would', the Cambridge Dictionary's page on 'would' -- especially the part on Uses, which is further down the page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

How does would work here?

In American English, the phrase "go to hospital" WOULD not be correct. One of the Articles "a" or "the" WOULD be necessary.
In British English, the comma WOULD go after the closing quotation mark.

Hello Dwishiren,

There is an implied hypothetical there. The speaker is effectively saying 'If you were to use...' or 'If you wanted to say...'

If the speaker were looking at an actual example then they would be more likely to say 'In American English, the phrase... is not correct'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Peter M. But I don't undestand a little. You said "if the speaker were to looking at an actual meaning then they would be more likely to use "is". So, the sentence above uses "would", it's not actual example, isn't? I'm confused about what's meant wiht "not actual " example? Could you explain?

Hello Dwishiren,

What I said was 

If the speaker were looking at an actual example then they would be more likely to say 'In American English, the phrase... is not correct'.

In other words, if the speaker had a text in front of them then they would say '...is not correct'. When they are speaking hypothetically in the sense of 'if you wanted to say this...' then they would use '...would not be correct'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Peter M. But what you meant by "speaking hypothetically" is talking about an imaginary situation? Actually, there's no sentence "if you wanted to say this..." in the sentence above, the speaker directly uses "would".
Another example:
- in England, "shall" is used to express the simple future for the first person I and we, as in "shall we meet by the river?" "Will" would be used in the simple future for all other persons. In this sentence, the first uses "shall is used...", whereas the second uses "will would be used...", I wonder why not say "will is used? Why instead use "would"?

Hello Dwishiren,

If there is a concrete example in front of the speaker thent he present simple is likely as the reference is to a real example. If the speaker is simply explaining the rule in general terms then 'would' is likely, and the reason is that there is an implied 'if you wanted to say this then you would...' It is implied, not stated. Note that I use the word 'likely' here. These are choices that depend on how the speaker sees the situation, not on a fixed right-or-wrong grammar choice.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Peter M. I'm beginning to undestand now. So when the speaker is explaining the rule, in that thinking, it is not a real situation, isn't it? I'm trying to ape your explanation, but I can't. Your explanation is this:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel [= we are discussing this purely hypothetical; we have not decided to stay in a hotel and it is(for now) not a real situation]

Could you explain this way? It's easy to undestand.

Hello Dwishiren,

I'm not sure how else I can explain it. If we are talking about a real situation then we can say 'You do not use this' (present simple). If we are speaking hypothetically then we can say 'You would not use this' (would + base form).

I'm afraid we can't provide these kinds of conversations with individual users on LearnEnglish. This is now a long series of questions and answers and it is beginning to resemble a private lesson. We're happy to provide explanations but we are a small team with many thousands of users and cannot act as personal teachers for all of them! If the explanation is still not clear to you then I suggest you ask your own teacher where you study and perhaps they can clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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