'will' and 'would'
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.
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
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
Expressions 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 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 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.