A modal verb with both present and past meaning.
|Continuous||would be going|
|Perfect||would have gone|
|Perfect continuous||would have been going|
Different uses of would
Exercise 1 - Match the example sentences on the left with their use of would on the right.
|1.||I wish he would do what I asked.||a||Indirect question|
|2.||Would you follow me, please?.||b||Future in the past|
|3.||He said he would do it tomorrow.||c||Polite offer|
|4.||I'd rather you didn't do that.||d||Expressing a preference about an action|
|5.||And every day he would go to work by bicycle.||e||Softening an opinion you are not sure about|
|6.||Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?||f||Commenting on somebody's typical behaviour|
|7.||She had no idea of how much it would cost.||g||Polite request|
|8.||Would you like to go to the cinema?||h||Past habit|
|9.||I'd imagine we'll arrive at about six .||i||Regret about somebody's behaviour|
|10.||He wouldn't do what I asked.||j||Third conditional|
|11.||One day he would return to this university as a professor.||k||Reported speech|
|12.||If he had known this he would never have asked her.||l||Refusal in the past|
1. Real Past - as the past of will
- Reported speech
He told us that we would all be given a special reward.
She decided that the blue blouse would go better with her skirt.
- Indirect questions
He wondered if he would ever see her again.
Did he know how much it would cost?
- Future in the past
This was the campus where she would spend the next three years.
Later he would come to regret this decision.
- Past willingness and refusal
He would happily do most of the housework, but he wouldn't do the ironing.
The car wouldn't start this morning.
- Past habits and repeated actions
When he lived in Durham, he would cycle to work every day.
And every day it would rain.
Note 1 - past willingness and refusal.
- Compare with use in the present
- John won't do it but I'm sure Susie will.
- We can only use would for general willingness in the past. For willingness on a specific occasion we need the past simple of a verb like agree.
- He agreed to do it. NOT (He would do it)
- We can use wouldn't for past refusal in general and on a specific occasion.
- He wouldn't eat his breakfast this morning.
Note 2 - past habits and repeated actions.
- We use would here as an alternative to used to.
- Remember that we can only use would in this way for actions, not states or longer events, where we use used to or Past Simple.
- He used to live in Doncaster. NOT (He would live ...)
Exercise 2 - Underline the correct option. If both are correct, underline both.
|1.||She wouldn't / refused to do her homework last night.|
|2.||They would be / used to be friends, but then they fell out.|
|3.||Sarah would always / always used to welcome us with a big smile.|
|4.||Mary would have / had much longer hair then.|
|5.||He always agreed to / would always do what you asked him.|
|6.||When I asked him yesterday he would help / helped me carry the shopping.|
|7.||He used to / would live in Peterborough.|
|8.||I always used to / would always get someone to do my homework for me.|
|9.||He would look / used to look just like his dad.|
|10.||She would never agree / never agreed to help me with anything.|
2. Conditionals and Unreal Past
- Conditionals and hypotheticals
- 2nd, 3rd and Mixed conditionals
- She would get into trouble if she was late.
- If he hadn't missed the bus, he would never have seen her.
- She'd be there now if she hadn't missed her bus.
- See below for links to my lessons on Conditionals
- 2nd, 3rd and Mixed conditionals
- Imagining a hypothetical situation or result in the present / future and in the past.
- A bit like conditionals without if
- present / future
- It would be a pity not to see her while she's here. (if we didn't see her)
- Wouldn't it be great?
- She would have beeen silly to refuse. (if she had refused)
- He'd have done better to speak to the boss. (if he had spoken ...)
- Imagining a hypothetical reason
- Why would she want to do that?
- I wish / If only
- When you want somebody, or the weather, or a machine to do (or not do) something
- I wish / If only he'd talk about his problems, instead of bottling them up.
- I wish / If only it would stop raining.
- I wish / If only the photocopier wouldn't keep breaking down.
- See below for a link to my lesson on I wish / If only
- Would prefer, would rather / sooner, and would just as soon
- Expressing a preference about an action
- I'd prefer it if you didn't do that.
- I'd rather you didn't tell Peter what I've just told you.
- I'd sooner you hadn't said that.
- I'd just as soon she didn't come to my party.
- See below for a link to my lesson on Unreal Past
- You would think (One would think - formal)
- We use this idiom when something is different from what we'd normally expect. Note the different forms
- You'd think she would be here by now.
- You'd think he would he would have told us.
- You'd think she was the Queen herself, the way she behaves.
- You'd think by the way he's acting he'd won the competition when in fact he came last.
Exercise 3 - Enter one word into each gap. Contractions count as one word.
|1.||If you living here, where would you like to be?|
|2.||I'd prefer if we went to the mountains this year.|
|3.||You'd she would have called by now, wouldn't you?|
|4.||I can't think she would treat him so badly.|
|5.||would certainly be nice to see them again.|
|6.||She would be earning far more if she dropped out of university.|
|7.||Who would have thought he do so well in his exam?|
|8.||I think he'd just soon I didn't tell you.|
|9.||Come on! It would be a shame to the beginning of the film.|
|10.||Why do you think he would and say such a thing?|
3. To talk about behaviour thought to be typical
Exercise 4 - Complete the sentences with verbs from the box.
|1.||He would go and the evening with his bad behaviour, wouldn't he?|
|2.||You would have to go and your foot in it, wouldn't you?|
|3.||She would have to him up on their first date, wouldn't she?|
|4.||He would go and his big mouth, wouldn't he? That's typical of him.|
|5.||They would have to just as we're getting ready to go, as usual!|
|6.||Typical! I would and forget her birthday, wouldn't I?|
|7.||You would have to go and things up between them, wouldn't you?|
|8.||I told him to his stupid job. - Well you would, wouldn't you?|
- In this use we usually stress the word would - She would say that!
- We often use the expression would go and (do something)
- We also often use the expression would have to (do something)
- Sometimes we use both together - would have to go and (do something)
- We often use question tags with this kind of statement.
4. As a softener / downtoner
- In statements where the speaker is not very sure
- Do you think it'll rain this afternoon? - I'd say so, yes.
- I would imagine that Wendy will be at the party.
- I'd have thought that she would have been happy to see you.
- With appear and seem to make them even more tentative
- It would appear that nobody's remembered my birthday!
- It would seem that the meeting has been cancelled.
- Giving advice with if I were you
- I wouldn't sit there, if I were you. That's the boss's chair.
- If I were you, I wouldn't bother about it too much.
- There's somebody at the door. - Oh, that would be David.
- I'd like etc
- I think Mary would like to see you now.
- Would like some more wine? - I think I'd prefer a coffee, thanks.
- Can't you stay a bit longer? - I'd love to, but I can't.
- In offers, etc
- Would you like to have lunch with us?
- Would you be interested in coming with us to the cinema?
- In polite requests
- Would you help me move this table, please?
- Would you just take a seat, and I'll tell him you're here?
- In requests with mind
- Would you mind just waiting for a minute or two?
- Would you mind if I smoked? - No, not all. Go ahead.
Exercise 5 - Enter one word into each gap. Contractions count as one word.
|1.||Do you think he'd be in coming to the opera with us?|
|2.||I'd love to stay a little longer, but unfortunately I .|
|3.||I was wondering if you'd to go to a movie or something.|
|4.||If I were in shoes, I'd take the job.|
|5.||Would you mind that window. It's very hot in here.|
|6.||Somebody just rang. - Oh, that would be Mark.|
|7.||Thirty-five? I'd have said she was younger than .|
|8.||Would you tea or coffee?. I don't mind, whichever you're having.|
|9.||Would you mind very much I left a bit early this afternoon?|
|10.||The boss would like a with you. Now!|
|11.||It would appear that they're married in the spring.|
|12.||Do you think Mandy will be late? - With this traffic, I'd imagine , yes.|
Idiomatic use - expressions and idioms with would
Exercise 6 - Complete the sentences with words from the box.
|1.||I wouldn't of interrupting your little tête-à-tête.|
|2.||I'd do for a cup of coffee right now.|
|3.||Would that I see his face when he gets my letter of resignation.|
|4.||Would you it? I've left my mobile at home again!|
|5.||As luck would it, I've got a few days off.|
|6.||A day off! Chance would be a fine !|
|7.||As they say - do as you would be by.|
|8.||Don't do that! How would you it if I did that to you?|
|9.||I wouldn't go there for all the in China.|
|10.||He ran off as fast as his legs would him.|
|11.||I'd give my right to be at the Cup Final.|
|12.||You would better talking directly to the boss.|
Four songs (extracts)
Bill Bryson - The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
Will and would, future and conditional - connecting with closely related languages
|English||I will go||I would go||I would have gone|
|Future Simple||Conditional Present||Conditional Past|
|French||J'irai||J'irais||Je serais allé|
|German||Ich werde gehen||Ich würde gehen||Ich würde gegangen sein|
|Dutch||Ik zal gaan||Ik zou gaan||Ik zou zijn gegaan|
|Danish||Jeg vil gå||Jeg ville gå||Jeg ville være gået|
Songs etc on YouTube
- I'd do anything Movie - version with lyrics
- Wouldn't it be loverly Movie with karaoke lyrics
- Preacher Man with lyrics
- A Boy Named Sue with lyrics
- Thunderbolt Kid - Try the transcription feature, though it's not great.