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.

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

Comments

Hi,
1.can we use could for present.
for example: i could do that tomorrow.

2.And with negative for present.
for example : i couldn't do that tomorrow.

Thanks and regards,
Nandish BC.

Hello Nandish,

Both of your sentences seem to refer more to the future than the present, as they both include the word 'tomorrow'. In any case, 'could' can be used to say 'would be able to'; given an appropriate context (for example, an 'if' clause), they could be used in these sentences. Without such a context, you'd probably want to use 'can' in both of these sentences.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
1.Can we use would for present,without negative?,
example : i would do it tomorrow.
2.And also can we use negative of it,
example : i wouldn't do it tomorrow.is this right?

Thanks and regards,
Nandish BC.

Hi Nandish BC.

Those sentences are possible grammatically, but it is hard to say whether or not they would be correct without knowing the context. The implication is that they are hypothetical:

I would do it tomorrow (if I could, but unfortunately I cannot).

I wouldn't do it tomorrow (unless I had no choice).

The context is crucial when choosing between different forms such as these.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi peter,
that is very helpful answer with clarity into the understanding.
Thanks
Nandish BC.

Teachers, does "would" in the following sentences show a hypothetical situation? Or maybe an opinion? I'm a bit confused to determine it.
1. My aim would be to develope these young players and get more and more coming through.
2. What a start that would have been.
3. I want to write in great lenght to you, I'm afraid that I would be a bother to you this evening.

Hello Dwishiren,

These are all examples of what are sometimes called 'hidden if-clauses'. You can think of them as hypothetical (conditional) forms where the condition (the if-clause) is not stated. For example:

If I had the the chance (but I don't) then my aim would be to develop these young players and get more and more coming through.

What a start that would have been if it had happened (but it didn't).

I want to write in great lenght to you, I'm afraid that I would be a bother to you this evening (if I did so).

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Peter. Can you give me a description what "will have to" means?
For example, we will have to take the bus. Does this mean we have to take the bus from now to the future? I mean we have to take the bus only, not other vehicles from now to the future?

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,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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