What is the difference between will and would in the following sentence? In the following news link, why is would used instead of will?

Here is the link and the headline:

Why the US would never win a trade war with China
CNN Business

But in the article, will is also used

We are now moving backward. In its efforts to achieve what it believes to be fair trade, the United States has started trade disputes with several different economies. Its conflict with China is by far the most intense, resulting in a series of additional tariffs. Some people believe that because America is the net buyer and China is the net seller in their trade relationship, China will lose the trade war and ultimately surrender. I believe that's wrong.

Can anyone who is a teacher or has good knowledge of the language please explain this?

1 Answer 1


The modal verb would is generally used for a hypothetical statement. On the other hand, will, in that way, is a bit straight and sure.

In such diplomatic statement, would is not just proper, but safer!

Here is the British Council reference to my answer; check where it says 'hypothetical.'

  • 1
    Hello, as you said journalists prefer to use "conditional" in such cases. But according to the rule of "second conditional" when it is said "Why the US would never win a trade war with China" It implies "why the US would never win a trade war with China if there were one." So basically It means "there is no trade war at the moment between the US and China." But in this article it is clear that there has been a trade war going one between the two countries for some time. Still why is "would" grammatical in the headline? Can you please explain? Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 17:24
  • Can someone please clarify? Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 5:32

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