In an interview, I heard an actress saying:

"I would not say, this is the best role I have ever done."

What is the meaning of 'would' in that sentence as there is no if-clause?

Why didn't she use 'will' instead of 'would, or was she wrong?

  • First, ditch the comma; it is ungrammatical. Clauses with "would" don't always require "if". "If" usually appears in conditional clauses, but this is not a conditional construction. Here, the modal verb "would" has a vague sense of tentativeness or extra politeness, cf. the direct and more blunt "This is not the best role I have ever done".
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:28
  • So that means that would can also be used without any conditions or any implied situations when we are being polite. Right?
    – Joann
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:40
  • Yes, that's right, cf. "I would like to see him tomorrow" ~ "I want to see him tomorrow" where "would" is the tentative version of "want".
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:44
  • is this sentence right? i would not come next week since my leg is broken
    – Joann
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:48
  • No, we would normally say "I can't (or cannot) come next week since my leg is broken". You could also say "I will not be able to ...".
    – BillJ
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


This is not the conditional use of 'would' in the sentence you have provided. Your example:

I wouldn't say this is the best rule I've ever done.

(Here the speaker is less direct or distancing himself from being direct that he/she doesn't want to say that this is the best role she has ever done)

Here, the speaker wants to be polite so he/she is speaking in an indirect way. According to cambridge dictionery, We use 'would' with verbs such as say,advice,suggest,think, imagin to make what we say less direct or to express tentativeness. This website is really helpfull for you http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/would

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