When I hear someone knocking on the door, and I think that John is behind the door. should I say "That would be John" or "That will be John"?

  • What you say depends on what you want what you say to mean. This question is rather similar to Why is "that would be me" more certain than "that is me"? and the other questions linked there: using would is a hedge. Sep 1, 2017 at 0:24
  • I would say "that will be John" because the person you expect to be John is currently at the door: "that would be John" is used in less immediate situations, usually referring to the past. For instance someone says "I spoke to a tall guy with dark hair yesterday, he dealt with my request" and you respond "That would be (or would have been) John, I'll see if he's available"
    – BoldBen
    Sep 1, 2017 at 0:55
  • Similar: When should I use “Would”, “Would have”, “Will”, and “Will have”?. It would be good to edit the question to show some evidence of research.
    – sumelic
    Sep 1, 2017 at 1:29
  • "That will be John" means you were expecting him and there he is, as planned. "That would be John" means you're using a bit of deduction. Sep 1, 2017 at 5:22

1 Answer 1


Either can be used correctly.

That would be John.

Is basically saying "I assume that that is John" (= an assumption in the present)

That will be John.

Is basically saying "The person who knocked will soon be revealed to be John" (= a certainty in the near future)

Notice the difference about how certain the speaker is. "would" communicates that the speaker guesses that it is John, "will" communicates that the speaker is sure that it must be John.
The speaker can of course still be wrong, but at least he isn't doubting himself at the time of making the statement.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .