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 sir I'm new member in this amazing site
I've seen this question in one of facebook group
Could you please explain why do they use "would" in this question below:

How would you write jan 22,2018 on a form that requests the information in this date format: DD-MM-YYYY?
a-01-22-2018
b- 22-01-2018
c- 2018-01-22
why have they said "How would you write instead of will"??
Thank you

Hello hayder221,

The situation is a hypothetical one for most people. They are not filling in such a form but are imagining what they would do if they were in such a situation.

It is possible to frame the question as one about typical behaviour and use the present simple: 'How do you fill in a form...?' The sense in this case is 'How do people usually...?'

The alternative with 'would' is less direct and more polite and is more common in questions such as this.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you peter ;
But who is imagining? the one who is asking the question ?
Thank you

Hello hayder221,

The situation is imaginary because the person answering is not really filling in a form here. They are imagining how they would complete it if they had such a form before them.

We often do this when we are giving advice. Sometimes it is explicit:

If I were you, I would...

If I were in this situation, I would...

If I were in your shoes, I would...

and sometimes it is implicit and the if-clause is not stated.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you peter,
So we have an implied condition ( if clause) here.
I’ve got last question please
What do you mean by it makes the offer less direct and more “tentative” ??
Could you clearify that because I think that’s the key
Thank you

Hello hayder221,

Forms such as 'would' and 'could' serve to make a proposition sound less likely and this makes it easier to refuse, which is what I mean when I say they make something tentative and polite. For example:

Will you help me, please? [a direct request]

Would you help me, please? [a less direct and more polite request]

I can do that. [a direct offer]

I could do that. [a more tentative and polite offer]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teachers, i'd like to understand a further use of would.I nocited this espression somewhere: the boss asked if iwould be interested in trasferring to our branch in Spain.

But i can't find the correct rule for this use. Could you help me to clarify the dubt because i'd say :the boss asked if i was interested in trasfering to our branch in Spain, but i think it goes wrong , doesn't it?.

thank you , regards.

Hello rosario70,

We often use 'would' for polite offers of this kind. It makes the offer sound less direct/more tentative. You can think of it as having a hidden if-clause:

Would you be interested in trasferring to our branch in Spain, if you were asked? (tentative)

Will you be interested in trasferring to our branch in Spain, if you are asked? (direct)

 

It's perfectly fine to report it by saying the following:

The boss asked if i was interested in transferring to our branch in Spain.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Would it be correct to use will/would in a conditional if clause. For example:
I will/would be thankful if you will/would help me.
Thank you ☺

Hello Jeje Rampen,

It is possible. It carries the meaning of 'agree to' and is a very polite form.

If you will come this way, I'll be happy to help you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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