She _________ definitely drive to work if she had a car.

  1. would 2) should 3) might 4) shall

An English quiz I took recently included the above question. I thought both "would" and "should" could fit into the blank, and chose "would" anyway, but the answer was "should".

Is there anything wrong with "She would definitely drive to work if she had a car."? Or is there any reason that "should" better fits in the sentence although "would" is also okay?

  • “should” doesn’t sound right to me unless you also change “had” to “has”, but “would” sounds fine as-is.
    – StephenS
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 1:11
  • Thanks,StephenS. Could you explain more about why you think "should" doesn't sounds right as-is, but sounds fine when "had" changes to "has"?
    – Takashi
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 3:16
  • Unfortunately, I can’t think of a rule to explain it, but as a native speaker, the combination “she should ... if she had” just sounds odd to me.
    – StephenS
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 3:38

2 Answers 2


"Would" is correct. "Should" is odd, and close to on incorrect.

The condition is in the past tense, it expresses a counterfactual, situation (Hypothetical means it might not be true, counterfactual means you know it isn't true. Here we know that she doesn't drive, and so she doesn't have a car: it is counterfactual)

The main clause should use a conditional verb "would drive". If you wanted to give advise (she should drive to work) you should use the present tense in the if-clause

She should drive to work, if she has a car.


The answer is either should or would. Both of them are fine. The reason why the answer was 'should' will probably have been that this 'should' expresses 'certainty'. It corresponds to 'definitely'. But to think another way, since 'definitely' already been used, there's no need in using should again, so 'would' is also fine.


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