What tense is the sentence "He would go to finish the job?"

Other examples, "He would leave the store." "He would decide to help him."

2 Answers 2


Depending on the context, but "would" can be the past tense of will.

Example (British Council):

I thought I would be late …… so I would have to take the train.


Being a modal word, would doesn't really have a tense. Modal auxiliaries don't inflect. However, you can think of it as having a past tense, since would is also a past form of will. Having no tense doesn't preclude it from expressing it though. In your examples it could mean:

  1. A habitual action - there were times in the past when he would (used to) leave the store, help him etc. Would here means "regularly".
  2. A hypothetical - he would decide to help him (,if given enough reasons to).
  3. Future in the past or reported speech - (I knew) he would decide to help him / (he said) he would go and finish the job.

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