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

Sir, They perhaps would wear pants when they go to party because they are younger. Sir, sometimes ,I think, we use would for present probability when we have good reasons for our case to be true like- You should ask him, He would know about it, Here would was used for present probability, So Could we use would for present probability in this way like my first sentence.

Now Could 'would' be used in the same way as mentioned above for past probability like in your section 'Word on the street into Shakespeare' there is video in which ashlie asks to a guide " Did they have women in the troupe or was it just men" then the guide replied " No, men and boys acted out all of the females roles, so these costumes would all have been worn by men and boys" In this case we could say that 'would have been' used for past probability but in some other cases ' would have been could be used for one time probability like in my sentence 'He died because perhaps He would have drunk poison but it's for one time like one day He drank poison and he died by If I say He died because perhaps we wouldn't take food properly it shows that he died because perhaps he didn't not use to take his food properly or he didn't take his food properly daily, So could we use would in this way for past probabilities as well as present or should we use here past simple or model 'used to' with some adverbs like perhaps, probably or possibly for past and present simple with these same adverbs for present ?
he would eat daily nowadays = perhaps he eats daily for present.
He would eat daily those days in his school time that's the reason why he is so strong now = perhaps He ate or used to eat daily those days that's the reason why he is so strong now for past. are these right ?

For the last part below, would you please advise the "It's"/"that's" refer to "It is"/"that is" or "It was"/"That was"?

I would think, I 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.

Hello wing wong,

There is no written contraction for was so it's here means it is.

You are correct about those phrases and your sentence is also correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

First, what is the meaning of would here?

1. Regarding the "glorious is God" example, the term for this would be copular inversion

2. If you're thinking of one of many, "a" would also be possible.

As for the second example, why isn't that "if you were thinking" sir? I often see the pattern "if S+verb (not past)..., S+would...
Isn't "would" a past tense form of will here? If it's not past, what is that?

Hello Crokong,

I'm afraid I can't find any of the examples you mention, so I'm not able to comment on any of them. Could you please explain where they are? I can find them neither in the explanation, the exercise, or the comments on this page. If they are from an old comment, please copy and paste the permalink of the comment into your message so that we can find it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi. I have a doubt.
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.

In the above sentence..why can't we use "They used to get up early and have a quick breakfast and then run across the road to the beach"
Since the action was already done in the past, why should we use "would"? and we didn't even imagine the situation. It actually has happened. Hope you have understood my doubt. Thank you sir.

Hello wisefool,

'would' can be used to talk about habitual actions in the past, which is how it is used in this text. You could also use 'used to' to express much the same meaning, though 'would' tends to be used as it is in this example (i.e. after an initial 'used to') to avoid repeating 'used to' numerous times. For some reason repeating 'used to' sounds worse (though it's not incorrect) than repeating 'would' several times. Perhaps this is because in speaking 'would' is usually reduced to 'd', but as far as I know there's no other more logical reason for this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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.

Can anyone plz understand me these sentences? I m vry confuse while using WOULD

Hello Vinod040,

The meaning of 'would' in that example is explained just above -- it is used to talk about the willingness of the baby to sleep. In other words, the baby did not want to go to sleep. We imagine the baby as being stubborn about staying awake.

It may seem strange to speak about a baby this way, but actually we often use 'will' or 'would' to speak about inanimate objects that are not working. For example, I can say 'My car won't start! How am I going to get to work?' In this case, we imagine the car being stubborn.

I hope this helps you get a handle on it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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