Would (the past form of will) is a verb that we use when there are options or possibilities.
|present form||past form||ing form||en form|
We put these verbs before the other verbs in the sentence.
These verbs only have a present form and a past form.
Past forms may refer to:
- the past (this is not the present or future)
- a hypothetical present or future: something we are imagining (this is not the real/likely present or future).
Would means the speaker is thinking about something that isn’t happening in the present or future, and saying what they think (selecting an option or possibility)
We use would (the past form of will) to talk about options and possibilities we are imagining.
I would open the window, but I’m too tired.
Options: (a) leave it shut (b) open it
I imagine opening it, but I won’t actually open it.
|I||would||buy||a hat||but I don’t have enough money. So I won’t.|
|She||would||turn off||her phone||but the button is broken. So she won’t.|
|He||would||go||skiing||but he has hurt his back. So he won’t.|
We use wouldn’t when we talk about an option or possibility in the past that didn’t happen. We often wanted it to happen.
I tried many times but the car wouldn’t start. I conclude that it wasn’t possible.
I asked him nicely but he wouldn’t give me any pizza. He had options. He decided not to.
When we think about the past, we consider options we had at the time. We use would to say what often happened.
|When we lived in China||we||would||use||chopsticks||every day.|
|When he didn’t read at school||he||would||often read||at home.|
|When she was a student||she||would||work||in the evening.|
Would shows that the speaker thinks about options or possibilities and a choice is made.
They are not thinking about the real present or future – they are thinking about the past, or something imaginary or hypothetical.