Would | Modal Auxiliary Verbs
Would is a modal auxiliary verb. There is no -s in the third person singular. Would is followed by an infinitive without to.
- He said he would try his best to help me.
- I would like to know what my duty is.
- The doctor said he would visit the patient.
Questions and negatives are made without do.
- Would you like some coffee? (NOT Do you would like …)
Would and Will
Would is a softer, less definite form of will. It is used in polite requests and offers.
- I would like to meet him.
Would can act as the past of will in indirect speech.
- She said, ‘I will not live here anymore.’
- She said that she would not live there anymore.
To make polite offers and requests
Would is often used in polite requests and offers. It is a softer, less definite form of will.
- Would you mind moving a bit?
- Would you mind sharing a room?
- I would like to meet the manager.
Would can also be used to express an opinion in a more polite way without being forceful.
- This is not what we would expect from a professional service.
To talk about past habits
Would can be used to talk about past events that happened often or always.
- He would always bring us nice gifts without telling why.
- The old man would recline in a corner and sleep most of the time.
- After dinner we would sit in a common room and chat for a while.
Would is often used to suggest that what happens is expected because it is typical, especially of a person’s behaviour.
- She would always trust the wrong the person.
- ‘Ann rang to say that she was too busy to come.’ ‘She would – she always has an excuse.’
To talk about willingness and determination
Would can express willingness or a rather perverse determination.
- He said he would try his best to help me. (Willingness)
- He would bet on that horse, though I asked him not to. (Determination)
- She would have her own way.
Wouldn’t shows unwillingness.
- I asked him to move his car, but he said he wouldn’t.
To talk about imaginary situations
Would is sometimes used to refer to a situation that you can imagine happening.
- I would hate to miss the show.
- I would go myself but I am too busy.
- It would have been quite boring to sit through the entire speech.
Would and used to
Both would and used to can refer to repeated actions and events in the past.
- She would/used to always carry an umbrella.
Note that used to can refer to past states; would cannot.
- I used to have an old Rolls Royce. (NOT I would have …)
Would rather expresses choice or preference.
- She would rather die than marry him.
- They would rather go to jail than pay the fine.
Would vs. Used to
Use would to talk about repeated actions and events in the past.
- The old man would sit in a corner talking to himself for hours.
- After dinner we all would sit in the drawing room and chat.
Use used to talk about repeated actions and events in the past.
- The old man used to sit in a corner talking to himself for hours.
- After dinner we all used to sit in the drawing room and chat.
We can use used to to talk about past states. Would cannot be used with this meaning.
- I used to have an old Rolls-Royce. (NOT I would have an old Rolls-Royce.)