Is it correct to say would you?

What's the Difference Between Will and Would?December 10, 2020 Marta Gomez-TaylorAre you confused about the difference between will and would in English?It makes sense if you are b

Is it correct to say would you?

What's the Difference Between Will and Would?December 10, 2020 Marta Gomez-Taylor

Are you confused about the difference between will and would in English?

It makes sense if you are because will and would are both modal verbs. This means that we use them with other verbs to talk about things such as possibility, obligation, suggestion, or asking for permission.

Many English learners get will and would confused because theyre used in very similar situations. But theyre not the same.

The main difference between will and would is that will is used for real possibilities while would is used for imagined situations in the future.

Of course, this is a simple explanation. To fully understand how to use will and would, well need to cover the following points in more detail:

  • How to use will
  • How to use would
  • The difference between will and would in conditionals
  • The difference between will and would when making requests
  • The difference between will and would when offering something
  • The difference between will and would when giving advice
  • How to use will and would in reported speech

If youre ready to finally learn how to use will and would, lets get started!

Will and Would differences and tips

How to use will

First, lets take a look at a few ways that we use the modal verb will in English.

Using will to give information about the future

We commonly use will to give or ask for information about the future. Remember that we can shorten I will or We will to create the contraction Ill or Well:

  • Well head home after work.
  • What time will they get here?
  • The conference will be held in Meeting Room A.

We also use will to talk about what we think, or guess will happen:

  • Dont lend him your car. Hell crash it.
  • Who do you think will win tomorrow?

Using will when were willing to doing something

We often use will to talk about things that we are ready to do or that were open to doing without any issues or objections:

  • Ill eat whatever theyre serving. Im not picky at all.
  • Sure, Ill have a cup of coffee. Thanks!
  • I know shell go to Paris with me.
  • Mr. Johnson? Dr. Ramirez will see you now.

Using will for rules or orders

Youll often hear will used to talk about general rules. Youll see will on signs, in codes of conduct or company policies and procedures:

  • Smokers will be asked to smoke outside.
  • Students will remain on campus during school hours.

And sometimes youll hear people use will to give orders or commands, although we consider this extremely direct and even aggressive:

  • You will pick up your room!
  • You will not speak to me that way!

How to use would

Before we talk about the main differences between will and would, lets talk about some common uses for would in English:

Using would for expectations in the past

We can use would to talk about things that we were expecting to happen in the past:

  • The sky was getting cloudy, which meant it would rain.
  • She wanted to call him, but she knew he wouldnt answer.
  • It was 3:00 pm. He would be home soon.

Using would to talk about past habits

We can also use would to mean used to. So, we can use it to talk about things that we used to do routinely:

  • When we lived in the mountains, we would go hiking all the time.
  • When I was a kid, my dad would read me stories every night.

But be careful: When we use would in this context, we have to make it clear that were talking about the past. For instance, notice how we use used to and not would in the following examples:

  • We used to smoke.
  • I used to go jogging more.

Because would has a few different uses, its confusing to say:

  • We would smoke.
  • I would go jogging more.

If we dont clarify that were talking about the past, it can sound like were talking about something we might do in the present if we had the opportunity. For clarity, its better to use would in this way:

  • Before we quit, we would smoke all the time.
  • I would go jogging more when I lived near the park.

Using would to talk about the future in the past

What? How can you use the future in the past?

In simple terms, when were speaking in the past, will becomes would. For example, imagine youre a kid again, and you say:

  • Everyone tells me I will do amazing things one day.

As an adult, you can say:

  • When I was a kid, everyone told me that I would do amazing things one day.

Heres another example. Imagine you just broke up with someone, and you say,

  • I will never love again.

But, after time passes, and you recover from the heartbreak, you can say:

  • After we broke up, I thought I would never love again.

Using would for patterns of behavior in the present

We can use would in the present to show that we expected the behavior or action from the person.

When we use would in this way, were communicating that we dont like certain repetitive behaviors or actions. But we can also use it sarcastically or when were joking with someone.

We often combine it with a tag question to get a response from the person were speaking to. This use of would typically follows this structure:

You would say that, wouldnt you?

(In this situation, the person might have said something silly or strange, and you were expecting it because they often say silly or strange things.)

He would walk here instead of taking the bus, wouldnt he? Hes so silly.

(Here, it didnt make sense to you that the person chose to walk instead of taking the bus. However, this person often makes silly choices, and for that reason you were not surprised.)

You just spoiled the ending of the book! You would do that, wouldnt you?

(In this context, the person youre talking to often shares with you the ending of a book that you havent read. So your comment communicates that you were expecting that from them.)

Remember, we use would this way when were frustrated with someones behavior or as a joke.

The difference between will and would in conditionals

Conditionals tend to give English learners trouble, often because of modal verbs and mixed tenses.

And will and would are no exception.

In general, we use conditionals to talk about possibilities and results.

To determine whether you should use will or would, ask yourself this question: Is it an imagined situation, or is it a real possibility in the future?

When we use will with conditional sentences, its usually to talk about real possibilities in the future. In this structure, the verb after if needs to be in the present tense:

  • We will stop by the coffee shop if we have time.
  • I will be surprised if he shows up at all.
  • If I win the money, Ill give it to charity.

But we use would to talk about imagined situations, or things that dont have the possibility of happening.

When we use conditionals with would, we use the past tense after if.

So, notice the difference between these sentences:

If we break up, I will be devastated.

(Here, breaking up is a possibility.)

She will be mad if we dont show up on time.

(In this example, being late is a possibility.)

If we broke up, I would be devastated.

(Here, using would and the past tense means that breaking up is not a possibility.)

She would be mad if we didnt show up on time.

(Again, the use of would and the past tense here means that the situation is hypothetical.)

So, to summarize, in the first two sentences, the speaker is talking about things that might happen soon. But in the last two examples, the speaker imagines something thats only hypothetical.

So, thats why we usually use would and not will when we give advice to someone or share our perspective:

If I were you, I would cancel the meeting.

If I were you, I will cancel the meeting.

If you lived here, you would have to walk to work.

If you lived here, you will have to walk to work.

The difference between will and would when making requests

We can use will or would to make requests with no change in meaning. But it can change the politeness of your request.

For example, if you say to your friend:

Would you hand me a soda?

It sounds much more polite than:

Will you hand me a soda?

So, generally, its better to use would when youre asking people for favors. But if you do use will, you can always add the word please to make sure it sounds more polite.

There are some structures that we use to make requests that we can only use with would. For example:

Would you mind?

Would you mind getting some wine on your way home?

Will you mind getting some wine on your way home?

Would + like

I would like the roast chicken, please.

I will like the roast chicken, please.

Would + rather

He would rather not eat out tonight.

He will rather not eat out tonight.

The difference between will and would when making offers

We can also use would or will to offer people things with no change in meaning or politeness.

I mean, its always polite to offer someone something!

But there are certain structures that we can only use with will and some we can only use with would.

Will you have?

Will you have some more coffee?

Would you have some more coffee?

Would you like?

Would you like another cocktail?

Will you like another cocktail?

How to use will and would in reported speech

We use the term reported speech to talk about what someone said without putting it in quotation marks.

Its different from direct speech, which is when we use quotation marks to show that someone is speaking.

Heres an example of direct speech. Here, youll notice that Im using will:

  • I will take care of it, said Mark.

Heres an example of reported speech, and in this situation, I have to use would:

  • Mark said he would take care of it.

So, if we use will in a statement thats directly spoken, that means we have to use would in a statement that we report:

Direct: Ana will meet us at the bar, said Margaret.

Reported: Margaret said Ana would meet us at the bar.

Direct: He said, I will never eat meat again!

Reported: He said he would never eat meat again.

  • Direct: You will love it here, she said to me.
  • Reported: She told me I would love it here.

Theres one exception to this rule, though:

When were talking about an event thats happening in the future, we can sometimes use will in reported speech. Youll see this mostly after the present perfect tense:

  • Grandma and Grandpa have said they will visit for New Years Eve.
  • My neighbor has said that she will stop by the party.

Do I really need to learn the difference between will and would?

Like I said earlier, its pretty easy to confuse will and would because we use them in similar situations, and, frankly, they sound very similar!

Most of the time, mixing up these two modal verbs will not affect your ability to communicate. English speakers will still understand what you mean if you say: I will like a soda, please instead of I would like a soda, please.

Just make sure to avoid making mistakes that could confuse people and affect your communication. Here are some errors to avoid:

  1. Dont use would to talk about your definite plans in the future
  2. Dont use will to talk about habits in the past.
  3. When youre using will and would in conditional structures, just make sure that youre using will for real possibilities and would for imagined situations.

And dont worry if you make mistakes! Just remember that the more you practice using them, the easier it will be to use them correctly.


English Worksheets


About the Writer

Marta is an online ESL teacher who works withstudents from around the world. As a writer, language nerd, andcontent contributor for In English With Love, her mission is to empower English learners with knowledge and positivity.


More English Grammar TipsSee this content in the original post

AdvertisementsAdvertisementsAdvertisementsAdvertisementsAdvertisementsAdvertisementsDiscover more from In English With Love

Video liên quan