Although will and would are often being confused to have the same uses, there’s a significant difference between them…
Will and would are both modal verbs which do not have a meaning of their own unless their in a sentence. Other modal verbs include shall, ought to, may, might, can, could and should. For now, let’s just talk about will andwould.
In simple terms, would is the past tense of will. However, the tense is not just the sole difference of the two. There are certain conditions in which these two modal verbs are used distinctively.
Will is used for certainty, meaning, if you use this word, you are sure that the future action is executed.
- I will go to class tomorrow. (We used will because the subject is sure to go to class tomorrow.)
- If you are certain about the occurrence of the future action, then use will.
2. Quick decisions, promises, offers and a likely prediction
The modal verb will is also used when doing instant/quick decisions, promises, offers and predictions that are likely to happen.
- I think I will just walk today instead of taking the bus. (instant decision)
- Okay. I will cook tomorrow. (promise)
- I will help with the clean up next week. (offers)
- I think it will rain later because the sky is turning dark. (likely prediction)
3. First Conditional
First conditionals are cause and effect situations that cannot be changed. The results are fixed (most likely fixed). Will is used for first conditional.
- If it rains and you don’t have an umbrella, you will get wet.
- If you go to work late always, you will be in trouble.
1. Invitations, requests, asking permission, talking about preferences and making arrangements
Would is used in making invitations, requests, asking permission, talking about preferences and making arrangements.
- Would you like to come to the party with me? (invitation)
- Would you please bring this to the office? (request)
- Would you like to drink iced tea or fruit juice? (making a preference)
- I would like to have pizza for dinner. (making a preference)
- Would tomorrow be okay for the meeting? (making arrangement)
- Tomorrow would best suit my schedule. (making arrangement)
2. Second conditional
Second conditionals are also cause and effect situations. However, they didn’t happen (just imaginary/unlikely to happen). Second conditionals use past tense.
- If I knew the time and day of the party, I would attend it.
- If I chose this job, I would be very happy.
3. Third conditional
Third conditionals are similar to the second conditionals. The only distinct difference is that third conditionals uses past progressive tense rather than past tense.
- If I had known where you lived, I would have visited you everyday.
- If I had studied well, I would have passed the exam.
- If I could turn back time, I would like to change my major.
Will is used for statements with definite future actions.
Will is usually used for quick decisions, promises, offers and predictions that are likely to happen.
Would is usually used for invitations, requests, asking permission, talking about preferences and making arrangements.
Would is more polite than will in some cases.
They are both used for conditional statements:
- If X happens, Y will happen.
- If X happened, Y would happen.
- If X had happened, Y would have happened.
Hope this post helps! ^^