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The following is a part of an article from Mail Online Twitter, Facebook and email is taking over family life

The survey also discovered that 43 per cent of children and 33 per cent of adults are taking steps to reduce their reliance on messaging, text and networking.

But only one in five said they would be reducing the number of text messages they are sending and even less said they will be writing fewer emails.

I'd like to know the difference in meanings between would in "only one in five said they would be reducing the number of text messages" and will in "even less said they will be writing fewer emails".

It seems to me that would and will mean "future at the time when the survey was conducted" and "future at the time when the author was writing this article" respectively. But that doesn't make sense.

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    Although you will find explanations of the different uses of will and would, the majority of English speakers use them interchangeably much of the time. – Ronald Sole Feb 26 '17 at 12:45
  • @RonaldSole It's not really about the modality(will or would), but the issue here is that both are reported speech, but they use different tenses. – user178049 Feb 26 '17 at 12:52
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    @user178049 My guess is that the writer of the article didn't give a thought to any implication of the tenses but, like most of us, just used the first words that sprang to mind. – Ronald Sole Feb 26 '17 at 12:58
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When it's possible to say "they said they will", the will can be changed to its past tense (would) because said is past tense. Although "they say they will" may also reference something said in the past, you cannot use would instead of will because would will take on a different definition ("used to give advice").

Context indicates that will could've been used both times, but it seems like the author chose to change one to avoid sounding repetitive.

Will Means Still

When can will be used? When it's something that still is likely to happen. If you think about it this way, the "future at the time when the author was writing this article" is the same as the "future at the time when the survey was conducted". (It's reasonable to assume everyone's still planning to do what they said, since the survey is probably recent.)

You can't use will if:

  • The action was completed
    • Trump said he would become president.
  • The action is unlikely (or impossible) to happen in the future
    • Obama said he would improve relations with the Middle East.
    • I know I said I would, but I don't want to.
    • In a survey 50 years ago, most children said they would attend college.

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