How to use 'would'

We can use subject + would + infinitive (I would go) or subject + would + have + past participle (I would have gone).

'Would' has quite a lot of different uses. It's often a kind of past tense version of 'will'.

Remember that both 'had' and 'would' can be shorted to 'd. But only 'would' is followed by an infinitive without 'to'. 'Had' is followed by a past participle or by 'to + infinitive'.

1: The past of 'will' in reported speech

When we use 'will' in direct speech, we often use 'would' to change it into reported speech. Read more about reported speech here.

2: Willingness in the past

In the present we use 'will' to talk about willingness (willingness means that you are happy to do something). For example, if we say 'I will help you', this means 'I'm offering to help you' or 'I'm happy to help you'. We use 'would' for the same meaning in the past. Usually, we use this in the negative (when we are not happy to do something) and we use 'won't' for the present and 'wouldn't for the past'. 3: Habits in the past
This is similar in meaning to 'used to + infinitive'. Read more about habits in the past here.

(We can also use 'will' for typical behaviour or habits in the present, though this is much less common than using 'would' for the past. An example in the present is 'she'll talk and talk for hours!')

4: Requests

We use both 'will' and 'would' to make requests. The meaning is the same for both, but a request with 'would' is more polite than a request with 'will'. 5: The second conditional

We use 'would + infinitive' in the second conditional. Read more about the second conditional here.

6: The third conditional

We use 'would + have + past participle' in the third conditional. Read more about the third conditional here.
Read about 'could have' / 'would have' / 'should have' here.

7: With 'wish'
See more about 'wish' here.

8: With set phrases to talk about what we want

We use 'would' with some set phrases. These have some 'willingness' meaning in them.

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'A' and 'The' Explained