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 tomorrow?
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

I will tell her it if I ever meet her. Now the situation is that she is in front of me and I already told it to her, yet I said to her that I thought I would tell you it ( No matter whether I told her or not just suppose) if or when we meet or met ? the question is I have already met her but now if I say I thought I would tell it to you if or when we meet or met, what should I use here ?

Hello SonuKumar,

If I've understood what you're asking, I'd recommend something like 'I've been wanting to tell you' or 'I've been waiting to see you to tell you this'. Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk,
I would appreciate it if you could tell me the usage of "would" in the following sentences. In which category this usage falls into?
1. Many parents would agree that the school day is already long enough.
2. Without help, it would be impossible for many people to pay a deposit and a mortgage.
3. I would have to support a limited amount of animal experimentation for the development of medicines.
4. While there are some benefits to getting a job straight after school, I would argue that it is better to go to college or university.

Thank you in advance.

Hello Adib_y,

Generally, we use 'would' to describe situations or actions which we consider hypothetical in some way. Sometimes there is a hidden context which is implied but not stated.

 

1. Many parents would agree that the school day is already long enough.

Here there is an implied if-clause: Many parents would agree... if you asked them. The speaker has not asked them but is imagining what would happen if they were asked.

 

2. Without help, it would be impossible for many people to pay a deposit and a mortgage.

Here there is a hypothetical situation: without help can be reformulated as If there was no help.

 

3. I would have to support a limited amount of animal experimentation for the development of medicines.

Again, there is an implied if-clause: if you asked me or if that was an option.

 

4. While there are some benefits to getting a job straight after school, I would argue that it is better to go to college or university.

Another implied condition: if we were debating this or if you asked my opinion or if I had to choose.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for such a comprehensive answer.

Oh,now I got everything! Thanks a lot again, Kirk.

Hello again,Team!
Help me plz to solve my doubts as to the following situation,- I want to say that I am almost sure that the other person will be likely to cry after I have given him some information:
1. If I tell you this you would be crying,I am afraid.
2. If I tell you this you may be crying,I am afraid. (less certainty?)
3. If I tell you this you will be crying,I am afraid. (seems like something wrong is here)
Or what are the other possible ways to convey my thougt?

Hello Slava,

What comes to my mind is 'I'm afraid this might make you cry' or 'I'm afraid telling you this might make you cry'. Your versions make sense, but I wouldn't use a progressive form with the verb 'crying' (unless you have a strong reason to), as it seems to me that you're emphasising more the fact of crying rather than the process. Also note that we almost always say 'I'm afraid' (not 'I am afraid').

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Tomorrow is Saturday I( won't go -am not going to go ) to school it is a holiday.
What's the best answer and why

Hello coconader,

Our talking about the future and Future plans pages explain the different verb forms that are most commonly used to speak about the future. Which form is best depends on what you mean, but in general I'd probably say 'I'm not going'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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