3

I have been struggling with the "would" for quite a long time. I know most of the basic ideas of would. But there are too many "extended usages" that always confuse me.

I found this article from EnglishClub which is very helpful for understanding "would."

But still, I can't figure out what could be the difference without using the "would."

For example (sentence after the '→' is what I thought was "the same" meaning):

would for desire or inclination

  • I'd love to live here. → I love to live here.
  • Would you like some coffee? → Do you like some coffee?
  • What I'd really like is some tea. → What I really like is some tea.

would for opinion or hope

  • I would imagine that they'll buy a new one. → I can imagine that they'll buy a new one.
  • I suppose some people would call it torture. → I suppose some people can call it torture.
  • I would have to agree. → I have to agree.
  • I would expect him to come. → I expect him to come.
  • Since you ask me I'd say the blue one is best. → Since you ask me I have to say the blue one is best.

would for presumption or expectation

  • That would be Jo calling. I'll answer it. → That must/will be Jo calling.
  • We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning. | Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers. → Really? They may have been looking for those bank robbers.

I just can't understand WHY it should be "would" rather than other word or without using "would". What is the difference there?

I really wish there is some sort of "core concept" that can help me to understand "would" once and for all.

Thanks!

  • 1
    By using "would", you can imply politeness or convey to a reader that you are talking about a hypothetical situation, not facts! Also, "must", "could", "would" imply different degrees of strictness! IMHO. I think this question is a little bit broad! – Cardinal Sep 20 '16 at 15:07
  • The 'core concept' is that would is related to will. – Lawrence Sep 20 '16 at 16:05
5

I think you have it down pretty good for the second and third categories. I would recommend a slight change in this one:

• I suppose some people would call it torture. →
  I suppose some people can might call it torture.

but other than that, I think you're getting the hang of it.

However, the first ones aren't equivalent at all – though I'm not sure if the faulty understanding is with would, or with the verbs like and love. Here's how I might paraphrase these:

• Would you like some coffee? → Do you like want some coffee?
• What I'd really like is some tea. → What I really like want is some tea.
• I'd love to live here. → I love to wish I could live here.

In these cases, would like is a lot like want, it describes what you are are wanting or craving at the moment, but do not have yet (or cannot attain for some reason).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.