English Grammar - Modal Verbs
Would is a modal verb. Would is often used in conditional sentences with a clause beginning with "If..." but it can also be used in the following situations:
1. Used as a polite invitation or to offer
- Would you like to go to the movies with me tonight?
- Would you like some more tea?
- I would be happy to help you with preparation for your exam.
When someone asks a question to invite you or offer you something using Would, the response can be: Yes, I would OR No, I wouldn't.
- Would you like to have a coffee with me? Yes, I would.
2. Describe a prediction (hypothetical situations)
- It would be nice to have a barbecue.
- Nobody would believe me if I told them I had seen a UFO.
3. To not sound impolite when disagreeing with someone
- It would like to point out that you need to review those numbers.
- I wouldn't agree with that.
4. To describe past habits
- Before internet people would send letters to each other.
- When I was at school I would get up before everyone else in our house.
(This is similar to using Used to)
5. Future in the past
We use would when we are talking about the past but we want to talk about something which was in the future at that time (in the past).
- When I was in Paris last year I would spend hours sitting at coffee shops writing ideas for my novel.
- She promised she would send a postcard from Peru.
- I told you he would help us.
6. Wouldn't: To describe a past unwillingness (refusal)
- He said he wouldn't help us.
- My son wouldn't eat his food.
See our grammar notes about other Modal Verbs.
See our grammar notes about conditional sentences:
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