2

I looked at a text a friend of mine wrote. She almost always uses "would be" or "would have" instead of "will be" or "will have".

An international team of scientists collected insects with so-called “Malaise traps” in 63 protected areas in Germany. This long-term study revealed that the number of flying insects decreased by more than 75 percent in the time from 1989 until 2016. Other worldwide studies met or exceeded these figures.

For instance, the consequences of the extinction of bees would be a serious matter. One-third of our food wouldn't exist if these insects didn´t pollinate the blossom of plants.

...

In my opinion, we need a worldwide prohibition of pesticides. Another idea would be to build vertical gardens in densely populated cities. Vertical gardens would have a huge number of positive effects like providing food and a home for insects. The plants would also clean up the air. Vertical gardens would reduce the air pollution.

She intends to say this would be true hypothetically. I think it should be "will" in every case, but after looking up (would vs. will) I am not sure anymore. Which is right or best here?

To me, using "would" goes in line with saying that one believes a certain thing will happen as a result of an event in the future like in:

She'd look better with shorter hair.

Using "will" instead of "would" sounds very drastic to me in comparison in the text. But maybe would is to "weak" since insects do die more rapidly than ever...?!

Will means "it will definitely happen" to me here. Would means "it´s very likely to happen when looking at some of the facts but it´s ok for now" to me.

I am confused if I misinterpret will and would generally speaking as well as in this example...

2

You're friend's usages of would are mostly correct.

For instance, the consequences of the extinction of bees would be a serious matter.

Correct.

One-third of our food wouldn't exist if these insects didn´t pollinate the blossom of plants.

This correctly says how things could be different now, but she would be equally correct in that context to talk about the future by writing:

One-third of our food won't exist if these insects don´t pollinate the blossom of plants.

Now we come to a sentence that is incorrect:

Another idea would be to build vertical gardens in densely populated cities

The action of building the gardens is hypothetical, but the idea is not. The idea already exists. The sentence should say:

Another idea is to build vertical gardens in densely populated cities

These next sentences are correct because they are talking about a hypothetical that may never occur:

Vertical gardens would have a huge number of positive effects like providing food and a home for insects. The plants would also clean up the air. Vertical gardens would reduce the air pollution.

In those last three sentences, if you want to change the the "would" to "will" you have to expect that the events will occur.

Sometimes people in marketing will frequently use "will" instead of "would" because they think it makes them sound more confident in selling their product. Instead of "My product would make you the richest guy in town [if you bought it]" they say "My product will make you the richest guy in town" because it treats the sale as a done deal and because it sounds like an accomplishment rather than a potential. Basically it is an abuse of English but it is only one of many such abuses committed by marketers daily.

  • Thanks. Makes perfect sense to me! I still have to go through all the possibilities of making Future sentences. It is much more complicated than I thought it would be. – Marcin Nowak Mar 6 '18 at 5:58
  • I used "could" instead of "would" in the sentence: Another idea could be to build vertical gardens in densely populated cities would that work? It sounds to me as if it is out of the question that there already are vertical gardens in the world. – Marcin Nowak Mar 6 '18 at 6:14

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.