The differences between WILL and WOULD

The differences between WILL and WOULDThe differences between WILL and WOULD. The easiest way to identify the differences between these two modal verbs is by looking at the rules below.

Thanks to Dhanesh S for requesting this lesson.

When to use WILL:

Rule #1: To talk about future ‘facts’ (remember it may only be a fact from the speaker’s point of view)

  • The sun will rise at 6.23am tomorrow.
  • I will always remember my first day at school.

Rule #2: To create first conditional sentences

  • If you eat too much, you will get fat.
  • You will pass the exam if you study hard all week.

Rule #3: To ask people to do something (more informal/less polite than using ‘would’)

  • Will you pass me the a pencil?
  • Will you tell your father that dinner’s ready?

Rule #4: To express a present belief

  • John left for the airport hours ago. He will be flying by now.

When to use WOULD:

Rule #1: As a past tense of WILL for a future fact

  • I hope he will pass his exam / I hoped he would pass his exam.

Rule #2: To talk about an imaginary / unreal situation.

  • She would look good with a better haircut.

Rule #3: To create second and third conditional sentences

  • He would look good if he had a better haircut. (second conditonal)
  • He would have passed his test if had studied, but he didn’t put the work in. (third conditional)

Rule #4: To talk about past habits

  • When I was a kid, I would spend every weekend playing football with my friends.
  • I would sit at the kitchen table to do my homework every night.

Rule #5: To make polite requests and offers

  • Would you like a cup of coffee?
  • It’s a little cold – would you mind closing the window?

Rule #6: In reported speech

  • Jane: I won’t be going to the party. > Jane said she wouldn’t be going to the party.

Rule #7: To estimate something

  • I would guess he’s around 50? He’s not old, but he has some grey hair.
  • I would say it’s about 20 kilometres from here, more or less.

Rule #8: To talk about something that refused to happen in the past

  • I tried to get in but the door wouldn’t open.
  • He had terrible toothache but he wouldn’t go to the dentist.
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