will or would


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.


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.


  • 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.


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.





hi sir ....what would we use to talk about a possibility in future. i mean is right.something would be possible in future or something will be possible in future

Hello waqar_ahmad,

Both of those are possible but it is impossible to say which would be better (or if another alterative might be better, such as 'might' or 'may') without knowing the particular context or example.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir/Madamme
could you explain more about conditionals, especially 2nd conditional and 3rd conditional.
I am still confusing the result of these conditionals. even though I tried to read article that your colleagues have uploaded. please if you could.

Hello keanit,

Have you seen our conditionals 1 and conditionals 2 pages? Zero, first, second, third and mixed conditionals are explained there. After you've read through those pages, please let us know if you still have any questions - the more specific, the better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dad wouldn’t lend me the car, so we had to take the train. -(in this sentence had the gone by car?) please explain, i'm trying to understand WOULD

Hello namalthennakoon,

In this sentence 'wouldn't' means 'did not agree to' or 'refused to'.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

sir i have a problem.....the light would(past of will) be seen again...is it passive or what....as far as i know that.....the light would(future) be seen....if i want to tell it as past......the light would have been seen.......pls explain me all in details