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I came across several usage of would and will in a news article, but it is of pretty much confusing use. I picked a few sentences in the article with would or will in.

According to No 10, the new plan would allow the UK the freedom to set its own tariffs on goods arriving into the country.

Downing Street says it is confident the arrangement would be partly in place by the end of the proposed transition period in December 2020 - with the system being fully operational by the next general election.

However, the arrangement has not been explained in full - and it is not clear whether the cabinet will back the plan, or whether the EU would agree.

Technology would be used to determine where the goods will ultimately end up - and therefore whether UK or EU tariffs should be paid.

Can I exchange will for would or the other way around?

And especially the last two. would was used just next to a will, but I think they express the same thing, why writer used like this way.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44719576

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"Would" expresses a conditional, while "will" is more certain.

In your example, each use of "would" implies "if the cabinet backs the plan", while the "will" is about that condition itself.

Thus, you can't switch them and retain the same meaning.

  • Sorry, but I can't make what you say clear,. Do you mean would is less certain and would be true only on some conditions? However, in the last sentence, the two whether-preceded clause has already express the uncertainty of the writer, I don't think will and would make any difference in there. – Young Jul 5 '18 at 9:46
  • "Would" links a clause to some condition. While you could use "will" in place of the first two "would"s, the last sentence cannot switch them around, because the question of the EU's agreement won't be resolved unless the cabinet gets behind the plan first. That "would" is implicitly a "would then". – Darael Jul 5 '18 at 9:50
  • Thanks a lot. I still have a little confusion at the usage in the first two. If I could switch them around, would they totally be identical in meanings, even tone or connotation, since I studied before that would implies a bit of uncertainty and can be less aggressive when expressing opinions. – Young Jul 5 '18 at 10:07
  • @Young that's correct; the connotations are different. The use of "will" would imply that the Prime Minister's office was very sure the plan was going to go ahead, whereas with "would" they're not doing that. Either would describe the projected consequences, but the certainty in the plan progressing at all is not the same between the two. – Darael Jul 5 '18 at 10:14
  • @young Loosely, would = might; will = must. – Jason Bassford Jul 5 '18 at 12:18
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This is much like the relationship between can and could. Would is the past tense of will, to express future-in-past, but it is also used to express hypotheticals - things that might happen under some circumstances. Some say this is an example of the "English subjunctive". Something that would happen is being spoken of as a hypothetical, and is often attached to a condition - but may leave that condition implicit. For instance, you can understand the normal polite way to offer something as a hypothetical with an implicit condition. Consider:

Would you like a cup of tea?

Now, would you like and I would like are now set phrases, but you can think of it as "if you were to be given a cup of tea, would you like it?"

All of the would instances in your examples are of hypotheticals, while the will instances are just the use of the future tense.

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The word "ould" is generally used for a conditional that might or might not come to pass. The form "would have" is generally used for a conditional that did not come to pass, but might have happend. Thsi is smetiems called an "unreal past". The word "will" is most often used for a future tense, although it cna also be used for an imperative, an order.

According to No 10, the new plan would allow the UK the freedom to set its own tariffs on goods arriving into the country.

This implies "If the plan is approved and goes into effect."

Downing Street says it is confident the arrangement would be partly in place by the end of the proposed transition period in December 2020 - with the system being fully operational by the next general election.

Again this is conditioned on the plan being approved.

However, the arrangement has not been explained in full - and it is not clear whether the cabinet will back the plan, or whether the EU would agree.

The cabinet's action is in the future, and it is unclear if the cabinet will or will not approve. The EU's possible action is conditioned on the cabinet's action. If the cabinet doe not approve the plan, then the EU will not not do decide if it agrees or not, so "would" is used.

If the public had voted for "Remain" none of the debate on an exit plan would have occurred.

The vote is in the past, and did not go "REMAIN" so what would have followed on such a vote is unreal, dependent on a conditional tha proved false.

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