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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

Would: Uses

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?
  • 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.

  • would hate to miss the show.
  • 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.

  • used to have an old Rolls Royce. (NOT I would have …)

Would rather

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

Would

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.

Difference

We can use used to to talk about past states. Would cannot be used with this meaning.

  • used to have an old Rolls-Royce. (NOT I would have an old Rolls-Royce.)

Manjusha

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets. You may also want to check out my other blogs IELTS Practice and NCERT Guides

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