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'will' and 'would'

Level: beginner

We use will:

  • to express beliefs about the present or future
  • to talk about what people want to do or are willing to do
  • to make promises, offers and requests.

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 (when we imagine something)
  • for politeness.


We use will to express beliefs about the present or future:

John will be in his office. (present)
We'll be late. (future)
We will have to take the train. (future)

We use would as the past of will, to describe past beliefs about the future:

I thought we would be late, so we would have to take the train.


We use will:

  • 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.

  • to talk about typical behaviour, things that we often do (because we are willing to do them):

We always spend our holidays at our favourite hotel at the seaside. We'll get up early every morning and have a quick breakfast then we'll go across the road to the beach.

We use would as the past tense of will:

  • to talk about what people wanted to do or were willing to do in the past:

We had a terrible night. The baby wouldn't go to sleep.
Dad wouldn't lend me the car, so we had to take the train.

  • to talk about typical behaviour, things that we often did (because we were willing to do them) in the past:

When they were children they used to spend their holidays at their grandmother's at the seaside. They'd get up early every morning and have a quick breakfast. Then they'd run across the road to the beach.

Promises, offers and requests

We use I will or We will to make promises and offers:

I'll give you a lift home after the party.
We'll come and see you next week.

We use Will you … ? or Would you … ? to make requests:

Will you carry this for me, please?
Would you please be quiet?

will and would 1


will and would 2


will and would 3


Level: intermediate

Hypotheses and conditionals

We use will in conditionals to say what we think will happen in the present or future:

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 make hypotheses:

  • when we imagine a situation:

It would be very expensive to stay in a hotel.
I would give you a lift, but my wife has the car today.

  • in conditionals:

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 also 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.

will and would: hypotheses and conditionals


See also: Verbs in time clauses and conditionals

Level: beginner

Expressions with would

We use:

  • 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 until tomorrow?

  • would you like ..., would you like to ...  for offers and invitations:

Would you like another drink?
Would you like to come round tomorrow?

  • 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 the new one, not the old one.
I don't want another drink. I'd rather go home.

  • 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.

Expressions with would 1


Expressions with would 2



Hi Kirk. Thanks for the explanation. By the way, what is the difference between the following?

I think it would be nice to have a picnic.
I would think it's nice to have a picnic.

Hello Crokong,

What do you think the differences could be? I'd encourage you to try to explain what you think the differences are, and then I can comment on your explanation.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I like "will" when it is used to talk about typical behaviour, things that we often do. ;)

Sir, the writer/speaker says this sentence before the game begins:

If Manchester United kept a clean sheet tonight, it would be their fouth in a row in the Premier league.

If I won this race, I would buy a new car.

But I think it'a also correct to say these sentences before the game:

If Manchester United keep a clean sheet tonight, it will be...
If I won this race, I will...

I completely get it that the type first conditional is used to predict in this case. However, how about the type 2 conditional? What situation is it like? I'm confused because it can be used to express the future as well.

Hi Selet,

Yes, this is a commonly asked question! Have a look at this explanation and the full comment thread. I hope it helps to answer your question :)


The LearnEnglish Team

I'm a bit condlfused. Can the type 2 conditional be used to make suggestions? For example.

If you moved your chair a bit, we could all sit down.

If you used this, it would suggest...

I would appreciate you if you helped me.

The sentences don't mean that you don't mave your chair/you don't use this/you don't help me.

Hello Dwishiren,

Yes, you can use conditional forms in this way.

If you move your chair, we'll all be able to sit down.

If you moved your chair, we'd all be able to (we could all) sit down.

The first example is more direct; the second more tentative and possibly more polite, depending on the situation.



The LearnEnglish Team

It would be better to paint it green. (= in reality, you don't plaint it green, so it's not better)

It would be really great if you could fill out your biography. (= in reality, you don't fill out your biography, so it's not really great)

Is my understanding right?

Hello Jembut,

Yes, that's correct. The implication in the second sentence in particular is that you might still do the task, so the statement is really functioning as a polite suggestion or request (Please fill out...).



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. I'm sure that "would" here means "will be possible." Because the goal hasn't happened. If it's goal, "will" will be used. What do you think?

A second goal for United in these closing stages would make things very interesting.