I always confuse for using "would". Everywhere write the same things(using with if), but all of them are not clear for me. Logically, would always should be the same meaning. for example if I use "I would play football" this means that "I'm sorry, Actually I play football, but I will not available at that time" or "would be good" means that " it will be good but I will not be ready at that time". is it right? thanks in advance.

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    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


Logically, would always should be the same meaning.

This perspective is going to get you into a lot of trouble when it comes to English modals. "Would" in particular has a lot of different uses, and expecting it to always mean the same thing is going to lead you to misunderstanding it when it's used.

One use of "would" is similar to that you describe -- it's used to describe a conditional. "I would play football, but [some reason I can't]," etc. That sort of thing. You seem to have a handle on this use.

An extension of this use is using "would" for politeness. For example, if I say "I would like a muffin," this doesn't necessarily mean that there's something preventing me from liking a muffin or having a muffin. It's a more indirect (and thus more polite) way of saying "I want a muffin." It also implies that you expect the person you're addressing to do something about it -- for this reason, it's often used with servers at restaurants and the like. For similar reasons, "would" is often used in polite requests (e.g., "Would you please grab me a muffin?").

Another separate use of "would" is its use for the habitual past. For example, take the sentence "When I was a kid, I would play football every day after school." In this sentence, "would" is neither being used for a conditional or for politeness, but instead means something closer to "used to" and is used to mark something that occurred habitually in the past. Luckily, this usage of "would" is frequently accompanied by words and phrases indicating the time being described (like "when I was a kid" and "everyday" in my earlier example), so hopefully those will help you identify when "would" is being used in this way.

These are the main uses of "would" that I can remember offhand, but there may be more. "Would" is very versatile with its various meanings, but because of that it can be difficult to learn. Good luck with it!


'Would' is the past tense of 'will'. It is also a conditional, when used in conjunction with 'if'. This may be the part that's confusing you.


I would have played football.

Could be used as a response to the question 'would anyone have played football yesterday?' (more likely to be 'I would', which is ellipsis) and implies certainty - the past tense of will.

I would have played football if everyone else did.

In this example, the 'if' causes it to be conditional, meaning 'If everyone else had played, I would (certainly) have played football. Otherwise I wouldn't.'

The Collins Learner Dictionary has many examples which may help you.

  • 1
    Yes and does it make things easier or more difficult to introduce 'certainly' or 'otherwise', let alone past tenses to a question about present and future? Erdal76t ’I would play football’ could mean that and don’t you think the example is so complicated, it hides what’s actually going on? It should be easier to follow from ‘I would play football but (anything that gets in the way…)’ ‘(Whatever) would be good…’ is the same. ‘(Whatever) would be good but (anything that gets in the way…)’ Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 20:40

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