9 Ways to Use WOULD

Hello English learners. Welcome to a new lesson. We will look at 9 different ways to use “would”.

Different uses of would:

  1. Habitual past activity
  2. Conditionals
  3. Wishes
  4. Reported speech
  5. Requests
  6. Offers and invitations
  7. Willingness
  8. Preference
  9. Opinion

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9 Ways to Use WOULD

Would for habitual past activity

We can use would to talk about a habitual past activity or an event.

  • My grandma would sit in the garden in the summer evenings.
  • When I was a boy, I would do my homework as soon as I got home from school and then I would go out and play.

However, do not use would for habitual states in the past. Use used to instead.

  • My parents used to have a cottage in Brighton. (not would have)

Learn how and when to use used to and would here

Would in conditionals

We normally use would in second (unreal situations) and third (impossible situations) conditionals.

Structure of the second conditional:

If + Past Simple – would + infinitive

9 Ways to Use WOULD

  • If I were you, I would look for another job.
  • What would you do if you saw a snake?

Structure of the third conditional:

If + Past Perfect – would + have + past participle

  • If Michael had studied harder, he would have passed the exam.
  • What would have happened if they had won the match?

Learn more about the second conditional here

Learn more about the third conditional here

Would to express wishes

  • Stephen would like to play football for Manchester United.
  • We would like to help the poor.
  • I’d like to have a nap.

We use would to express our desire for the future. In this case, we use the structure:

I wish + subject + would + bare infinitive

  • I wish it would stop raining. 
  • I wish you would stop talking about football.
  • I wish you would mind your own business.

9 Ways to Use WOULD

Learn how to make wishes and regrets in English here

Would in reported speech

It is very common to use would in reported speech instead of will.

  • “I will send you a copy of the book” – Jane said that she would send me a copy of the book.
  • “I will be your Valentine forever” He promised he would be her Valentine forever.
  • “It’s raining outside. I’ll take an umbrella.” It was raining outside so she said that she would take an umbrella.

Would for polite requests

We can use would to make polite requests:

  • Would you look after my cat while I’m away?
  • Would you mind helping me with this form? I’m not sure how to fill it in.
  • Would you take a photo of me and my friend, please?
  • Would you be so kind as to set the table?
  • Would you help me paint my flat for the weekend?

9 Ways to Use WOULD

Learn how to make polite requests in English here

Would for offers and invitations

We can use would to make polite questions for offers and invitations.

  • Would you like some more food?
  • Would you join us for a drink after work?
  • Would you be interested in playing golf on Saturday?
  • Would you like to leave a message?
  • Would you like me to make you an offer?

Learn how to use the modal words can, could and would to make requests, offers, permissions and invitations here

Learn phrases for making, accepting and refusing invitations here

9 Ways to Use WOULD

Would to express willingness

Would is also used to express willingness.

  • John would lend you the money if you told him why you needed it.
  • Mary would never answer the phone before 9 am. 
  • They would move to a bigger house if they could afford it.

Would to express a preference

We can express preference using the phrases would rather and would prefer.

  • I’d rather have tea than coffee.
  • I think I’ve watched that film before. I’d rather watch something else.
  • This tablecloth is nice but I’d prefer something more festive.
  • I’d prefer it if you didn’t smoke in here.

Would for giving opinions

We can use the phrases would think and would imagine to give our opinion about something.

  • “Do you think we should go to the concert?” “Personally, I would think it’s a waste of time and money.”
  • I would think it’s a good offer. We should accept it.
  • I would imagine Sara must be lonely living by herself.
  • I would imagine it is important for one to keep his or her word.

9 Ways to Use WOULD

Learn how to express your opinion here

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Ways to Use WOULD
Ways to Use WOULD

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