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

Hi Peter,

Could you please clear me out which one is correct, and in case neither is, what would be the best way to get the message across:

As I would also be moving a lot, would it be a problem to occupy the storage space for the whole year?

As I would also be moving a lot, was it a problem to occupy the storage space for the whole year?

As I would also be moving a lot, was there any problem in occupying the storage space for the whole year?

Thanks!

Hi Tina A.

Of these options, only the first is grammatically accurate. I assume this is a request about the future, in which case both 'would also be... would it be...' and 'will also be... will it be...', depending on whether the situation is hypothetical or not.

I assume the sentences describe a renting arrangement. If so, you would use 'will' if the renting is certain and the discussion is about some details of the arrangement, and you would use 'would' if you are not sure whether to go ahead with the renting or not.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much! It sounded right to me as well but just wasn't sure about using "would" twice in this case (when it's not conditional).

Hello,

I have a question.

Whenever I had a project, I would schedule a meeting with my manager and discuss the result.

Whenever I had a project, I scheduled a meeting with my manager and discussed the result.

Are those two sentences both grammatically correct? If so, what is the difference between them?

Thank you,

Hello Priority,

Both sentences are correct and the meanings are very close. The difference is that the form 'would schedule' is used to describe repeated/typical/habitual actions in the past which are no longer true, whereas 'scheduled' can refer to a single action or to repeated actions. As you have the word 'whenever' in your examples we already know that we are describing repeated actions in both sentences. Therefore the only difference, if any, in this case is one of emphasis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Thank you very much for your reply.

Both two sentences described situations in the past. If I wanna express "If I had a new project, I would still schedule a meeting (repeat what I did because of my habit)." to my listener, I should use the "scheduled" case instead of "would schedule". Am I correct?

Regards,

Hello Felix W,

As I said, both sentences are correct and both can refer to your normal behaviour in the past. You can use either form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Would it be right to assume that the sentence "We will then cancel..." is conditional? as in the contract or whatnot will be cancelled in the near future under the condition that the person does what has been asked of him? i.e. If you are not happy with...call to cancel...and we will then...

Hi emgrace,

There is certainly an implied condition here but that does not make the sentence a conditonal in the grammatical sense. It could simply be a normal future reference. For example:

If you send us a formal request, we will then cancel the order. [a conditonal]

Here's the plan: you will send a formal letter and we will then cancel the order. [two actions in the future in sequence]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir. I want to ask that this sentence "the chief's son would inherit all his dominions" so it means he will be inherited so why do we use would in a future tense?

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