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.






Sir, I often hear people say "Why would you do that". Is that an idiom or is that sentence grammatically correct? If yes, could you explain to me what does "would| have to do with the sentence?

Thanks for answering, I'm from Indonesia.

Hello januaryanandaputra,

This is a grammatically correct question. The main verb is 'do' and 'would' is used to speak about a hypothetical situation. For example, if my friend told me that he planned to go to work the next day without any clothes, I might ask him 'Why would you do that?!'

Does that help?

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
Is this sentance is gramitical ok. please explain -
-things that are imagined rather than true.

Hello Kailash,

The clause that you ask about is a grammatically correct clause, but it is not a sentence because the clause is not followed by a verb. Please see our Clause, phrase and sentence section for more on this topic.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


what is the difference between these two sentences?
1. the would get up early in the morning
2. they used to get up early in the morning

Hello Hannibal,

Both 'would' and 'used to' can be used like this to refer to past repeated actions, so for the most part, these two sentences mean the same thing. There are two ways in which these forms differ, however: 1) only 'used to' is used to speak about actions that are regarded as regular and important in some way and 2) only 'used to' is used to refer to states in the past (e.g. 'My grandmother used to feel lonely on Sunday afternoons.') That first difference could make your two sentences different, depending on whether getting up early is considered important or not.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

My dad didn't give me car , so we had to take the train.
My dad wouldn't lend me the car, so had to take the train.

What is difference between these two sentences.......it made me confused waiting for advice.

Hello Touqeer younas,

The first sentence describes a fact: the speaker did not get the car. We do not know why.

The second sentence gives us the same fact, but also adds a reason - it was the father's decision; he did not agree.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Respected Peter

I think the 1st sentence also gives us the reason that it's father's decision. Kindly make it clear I'm still confused.

Hello Nylakhan,

You might infer that from the first sentence, and it might be clear in context; but out of context as it is, I agree with Peter: there isn't any clear explanation.

Could you please be more specific about what's confusing you? If you explain what you understand each element of each sentence to mean, that would also be helpful. We're happy to help you with your questions, but it's very difficult to help you if we don't know what you're thinking.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team