1. During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain's displeasure with continued Danish trade with the French would lead to increasingly aggressive skirmishes at sea.

  2. Britain would grow increasingly concerned that Denmark's fall to the French was inevitable, leaving Britain with restricted access to the Baltic Sea, an unthinkable loss to the British military command.

  3. Haile Selassie returned to his throne as Emperor of Ethiopia following Italy's defeat, and he would rule successfully for nearly 40 years before the arrival of a new threat.

I somehow could guess the first Would is for the habitually happened past actions, and the third is the future tense in the past. But I don't know how did I come to that conclusions... and furthermore the second Would is just over my head. Maybe it's the same with the first one? How on earth should I tell them apart? Is their any signal word to distinguish it?

  • 1
    They all sound exactly the same to me. (In the years to come, somebody would something or something would something.) It's the future being discussed from the point of view of the past. Mar 12, 2019 at 13:25
  • @Jason is correct.
    – Ben
    Mar 18, 2019 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


As far as I can tell, and without clarification to the question, all three instances of would are being used in the same way. They all discuss future events from the point of view of the past.

After a point of time in the past, something or someone:

 . . . would lead to skirmishes . . .
 . . . would grow concerned . . .
 . . . would rule successfully . . .

If taken from the present, they are all be like things seen through a crystal ball—visions of the future.

None of these are discussions of "past habit"; they are all simple descriptions of future events.

A past habit would be something like this:

Haile Selassie, upon returning to his throne as Emperor of Ethiopia, remembered when he had gone for a walk every morning before meeting with his generals to formulate the day's strategy to defeat Italy.

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