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

Hello everybody..... I've got a question, could someone help me?...... in which cases we can use:
Would + subject + verb(infinitive) + complement + ?
Would + subject + be + verb(participle) + complement + ?
Would + subject + be + verb(ING) + complement + ?
Would + subject + be + adjective + ?

Thank you so much......

Hello Alicia,

What do you think? If you write an example sentence for each structure, we can confirm that you've done it correctly. In any case, there are many situations in which you could use these different structures.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for clarification,now I got it.

Hello again: one little specification concerning my previous example: "The policy should be improved so that it would have the desired results". Can "would" be replaced for "might" here :"The policy should be improved so that it might have the desired results",or it would entail a change in meaning ,or is not correct in itself ?

Hello Slava123,

We would not use 'might' here. If you wanted to leave the possibility of not working open (let's say it is something you cannot be sure of) then you would probably use a phrase such as 'so that it would have a chance of achieving the desired results'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Peter, thank you very much...

Hello again,team!
Question: I know (from grammar books) that depending on the context there is a lot of meanings (shades) and respectively rules of usage of modal verb "would",but still in no way can i work it out what rule exactly can be applied to my example, i.e. what implication does "would" have here?:
"The policy should be improved so that it would have the desired results".
And ,for another example,is it grammatically correct if i say to my friend:
" Throw your coin up there so that it would remain on the plate",- can this phrase be said with another modal verb and through another grammatical construction?
Thanks in advance

Hello Slava123,

In your first example 'would' is used because it is an implied conditional (hypothetical) sentence:

The policy should be improved so that it would have the desired results (if it were implemented).

 

The second sentence does not look correct to me. If an imperative is used then we are talking about a real situation and so would not use 'would' but rather 'will' or a present form:

Throw your coin up there so that it will remain on the plate.

Throw your coin up there so that it remains on the plate.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Could you please explain when to use will or to be going to?
Thank you

Hello Behnaz,

Our talking about the future and Future Plans pages cover this and the general topic of how to speak about the future in English. Please take a look and then if you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask us on a relevant page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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