I did not know if I will be able to or would be able to?

I'm a bit confused about the difference and I don't know which keyword to look for!


Saying "I will be able to help you," implies that you will help the person you are speaking to, and there is no obstacle in the way of you doing so.

Saying "I would be able to help you," implies that you theoretically could help the person out, but there may be something that prevents you from doing so at some point.

In conversation, most people pay no attention to that difference and use "will" and "would" interchangeably. If the speaker follows up with a statement such as, "but I have no free time next week," then you know that they really can't help you. Otherwise, I think it's all up to the context and your interpretation of the interaction.


Since you speak about your knowledge in the past (using did), will (from I don't know if I will) transforms into would to make tenses agree. That combination of tenses is called Future in the Past:


I didn't (did not) know if I would be able to.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy