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

Comments

Hi,
could you please help me out in understanding "Would".

"In the olden times,
all weapons were made by hand to different specifications.
So if an archer ran out of arrows during a battle,
they wouldn't necessarily be able to fire another archer's arrows from their bow.
This of course meant that they would be less effective in combat
and very vulnerable, too".

could you please clarify the context of this abstract? what does each 'would' imply here.
from what i think first "wouldnt" means talking in present about something that happened in future of past.(does that make sense?)

how does the last "would" fit here. I understand the context but i dont understand the logic behind its usage here.

Hi talel,

The text describes a hypothetical situation. It is not describing a particular situation (a particular battle, for example) in the past, but rather making a general statement.

"In the olden times, all weapons were made by hand to different specifications. So if an archer ran out of arrows during a battle, they wouldn't necessarily be able to fire another archer's arrows from their bow. This of course meant that they would be less effective in combat and very vulnerable, too".

'If an archer ran out...' is a hypothetical condition. It does not describe a particular event, but is a general statement.

'they wouldn't... be able to fire...' is one result of the condition.

'...they would be less effective...' is another result of the condition.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm sorry i dont understand. if the abstract is written by an archaeologist and he's sure about what hes written after long extensive research then the context changes right?

"This of course meant that they would be less effective"

this "ofcourse" means that they writer is sure about it isintit?

Hello talel,

In conditional structures it is the condition which is sure or not sure. The result follows if the condition is true. Thus, the archers would be less effective only if the condition (they ran out of arrows) were true, and the condition is speculative.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Is this sentence correct? I want to say i will give this certain person ride back home (its conditional, i want him to know that chances of me giving him a ride home are slim) if our friend is late.

" Okay, I would give you a ride home if she's late".

Hello talel,

That sentence is not correct. You could say this:

I'd give you a ride home if she were late.

This means that you do not expect her to be late, and so do not expect the ride to be necessary.

 

If you think your will be late (it is a real possibility) but want to say that your giving a lift is unlikely, then you need to use a verb like 'try' or an adverbial phrase:

I'll try to give you a ride home if she is late, but it'll be difficult.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I'm sorry i dont understand this.
now does it mean that
whenever we are using would with if, it means that the first thing is highly unlikely and
not likely to happen?

eg.

"she wouldn't work even if you give her a job".

then what's the difference between

"she wont work even if you give her a job".

Hello talel,

Conditionals have two variables.

The first is that the situation they describe is either a real (possible or likely) situation or it is a hypothetical (impossible or very unlikely) situation.

The second is the time when the situation occurs, which can be past, present or future.

 

The times of the condition and result need to be logical. This means that the condition cannot come after the result.

You need to be consistent with regard to the real/unreal variable. That means that if you use a form for an unreal condition they your result clause must also have an unreal form.

 

For example:

She wouldn't work for you even if you gave her a job.

[would = unreal result | if + past = unreal condition]

She won't work for you even if you give her a job.

[will = real result | present = real condition]

 

Your second sentence is fine. It describes a real or likely situation (i.e. the speaker sees it as a real possibility that you will give her a job) and the result is consistent with this.

Your first sentence is not grammatically accurate. It mixes an unreal result (wouldn't work) with a real condition (if you give).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

i just heard some one talking to their boss( both divorced)
"is there a misses david"
" no sir"
"ah, must be the long hours of duty"
"You would know sir"

no i understand the context. but whats the grammatical logic behind the reply.

okay best. i get it now. Thankyou you cleared it. phew!!

now..
can i ask more questions? is that allowed? im learning so much here.

what if I'm at someones house and they want to feed me more food( ie grandmother)she puts more cake in my plate.

What could i say?

"i wouldnt be able to eat all that"
or
"I wont be able to eat all that".
i guess both have the same context right?

or I get alot of coins in fifa 50 million coins (which i can spent but its unlikely)
what could i say in sudden excitement ?

"Ohh man, i wouldnt be able to spent all that".

"i wont be able to spent all" that implies that i am certian i wont spent that many coins and i'll be left with some coins unused. right?

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