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Welcome to your WOULD lesson! We’re going to look at how to use WOULD in English. In this topic we talk about:
• When do we use WOULD?
What’s the difference between WILL and WOULD?
Other uses of WOULD
Take the free WOULD quizzes when you’re ready! Best of luck.

When do we use WOULD?

We use WOULD or WOULDN’T when we imagine a situation or action:

“It would be nice to buy a house near the beach, but we can’t afford it.”

“I‘d love to be an actor.”

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

We use WOULD HAVE when we imagine situations or actions in the past. (These sentences use the Present Perfect):

“I don’t know what we would have done without your help.”

“I didn’t tell him, he wouldn’t have been very happy.”

Compare the two forms:

“I would text her, but I don’t have her number.”

“I would have texted her, but I didn’t have her number.”

WOULD is often used with IF:

“I would text her if I had her number.”

“I would have texted her if I had had her number.”

What’s the difference between WILL and WOULD?

Compare the two forms:

“I‘ll have dinner with you, I’m free tonight.”

“I would have dinner with you, but I’m not free tonight.”
(so I can’t have dinner with you)

“I‘ll text her, I have her number.”

“I would text her but I don’t have her number.”
(so I can’t text her)

Sometimes WOULD and WOULDN’T are the past forms of WILL and WON’T. Compare the two forms:


James: “I‘ll mail you about it later.”

“James said he‘d mail me about it later.”

Marcus: “I promise I won’t forget.”

“Marcus promised that he wouldn’t be late.”

Jen: “Damn! The car won’t start!”

“Jen was angry that her car wouldn’t start.”

Other uses of WOULD

“Somebody wouldn’t do something” means “they refused to do it”:

“I made him some dinner but he wouldn’t eat it.”
(he refused to eat the dinner)

“The TV wouldn’t turn on.”
(the TV “refused” to turn on)

You can also use “would” when you talk about things that happened regularly in the past:

“When we were younger we would go to the beach every weekend.”

“Whenever James was hungry, he would get very angry.”

With this meaning, WOULD is similar to USED TO:

“Whenever James was hungry, he used to get very angry.”