Let's say Shiva has found a language exchange partner online. Her mother has asked her how long has she known the language exchange partner and then Shiva said:

Well, I've known him for about 2 months. I met him last year from a language exchange website, he initially messaged me then I replied and told him that I agreed for a language exchange, I would teach him to improve his Spanish, in exchange he would do his best to help me improve my English.

My questions is, if the language exchange has occurred and is still happening at present, shouldn't I use "will" instead of "would"? Because it has occured, meaning it's real, not just a hypothetical "would"

I doubt this "would" in the given paragraph.

  • 1
    Shiva is describing the terms of the agreement, which happened at a particular point in time in the past, so would is appropriate. Jan 8 '19 at 23:49
  • I'd like to add a comment for a correction as well, if that's fine. In "Her mother has asked her how long has she known", "how long has she" should be "how long she has" because it's an indirect question.
    – Robert W.
    Jan 9 '19 at 0:47
  • Oh I see... thx man. 🙂
    – John Arvin
    Jan 9 '19 at 14:15

You can use either will or would.

If Shiva wants to tell her mother of the agreed arrangement, she might use will.

I will do this and in return he will do that.

But if Shiva wants to describe how she thinks the arrangement might work out, she might use would.

I would do this and he would do that.

In this context will is used to convey intention or decision and would is used more loosely to describe ideas.

Note that although your meeting and agreement are in the past, your mutual teaching arrangement continues into the future.

Imagine, for example, that Shiva and her partner have agreed to marry. Shiva could tell her mother:

We WILL marry next Saturday. Our reception WILL be held at the local hotel and we WILL celebrate our honeymoon in France.

Using will conveys the impression that things have been settled rather than being just in the planning stage.

Would is used to convey ideas of how things might work out if the scheme goes ahead.

We would marry next Saturday. Our reception would be held at the local hotel and we would celebrate our honeymoon in France.

  • Hi, I know how "will" and "would" are used, they are modals, aren't they. My specific question is in the written sentence above, that is, not deciding what modal I should use, BUT RATHER, if "would" should be used as "will's" past tense or just "will"... I hope that I've made myself clear here. -makes me a bit sad because I always try to be as clear as possible to avoid any misunderstanding... oh man. Thanks for the answer anyway.
    – John Arvin
    Jan 9 '19 at 14:25

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