B answers a question from A. Speaker B uses "would", if I use "will", what is the difference?

A: Could you please put in plain words the meaning of "unsatisfied" here, in the whole context (perhaps giving some close synonyms)?:

One by one they rolled away, filled with full but very unsatisfied hobbits.

B: More context would help!

Satisfied can imply having had your fill of food – having eaten quite enough (“an ample sufficiency”, as is sometimes said). Here, the point seems to be that they have had enough of something (food?) but still don’t feel satisfied (contented?).

  • There are many questions here about the difference between will and would, such as this one. Basically, you use will if the other person is definitely going to provide more context. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 11:51
  • In practice, native speakers almost always use would in the cited context, but it wouldn't make any difference if they used will. In this specific context it's vanishingly unlikely someone would explicitly choose will because they actually know (or wish to imply) that further context will be forthcoming, which will help. We just use X would help as "shorthand" for IF X [happened / existed / was true], that would help. For the "prediction" sense, There will be more context, which will help. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 13:36
  • @FumbleFingers Your explanation is very clear. So "would" is used for something that doesn't exist, isn't it? Could you give an example sentence using "will" as further context will be fortcoming?
    – Nyambek
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 14:35
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    "Jane has just asked a question, but she doesn't know all the details we need in order to answer it properly, so let's put that one "on hold" for now. Further details will be forthcoming when John arrives". Or John will give us more context when he arrives. We wouldn't use would there unless we also changed when to if. Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:39
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    Does this answer your question? "will" vs. "would"
    – Astralbee
    Commented Nov 20, 2023 at 15:48

3 Answers 3


The grammatical difference is that "would" uses the irrealis mood and "will" does not.

The semantic difference is that "would" is an indirect indication of a problem, and a clear, polite suggestion that the listener do something. On the other hand, "will" is a direct indication of a problem, and only maybe a weak and blunt order for the listener to do something.

So if B had used "will" there rather than "would", it would come off either as a mere indication of a problem that anyone could solve, like, "We should find more context", or a passive-aggressive command, like, "Get me more context!"


"Would" expresses a condition. If someone provided more context, then more clarity results.

"Will" expresses a future event. In this case, when someone proved more context, then more clarity results.

In this example, the two mean the same thing. More context results in clarity.

In some cases there could be a difference between a condition and a certainty. Like, "If I could afford a car, then I would get there more quickly." Versus, "When I buy a car, then I will get there more quickly." The first example is a possibility; the second is a certainty. But in real life, few things are absolute certainties, so we're really talking about a range of probabilities. Though I suppose some things are so close to certainty that we consider them 100%. Like it would be silly to say, "If the sun rises tomorrow morning, then I would ..."

  • In the sentence above, using "will" wouldn't make sense, doesn't it? "More context will help"
    – Nyambek
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 13:31

Usage has changed significantly over the past century...

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Obviously it's inconceivable that the real-world contexts in which people might use either of these forms have changed so significantly. I take the chart as conclusive proof that for almost all contexts, the two verb forms are equivalent.

It's hardly worth trying to identify contexts where they're not interchangeable, because they arise so rarely.

  • So which should we use, "it will help if you give more context" or "it would help if you gave more context?" To me, because this is a real situation, I would use "it will help if you give more context." What do you think I'm right?
    – Nyambek
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 11:51
  • Many of the relatively few remaining uses of will in my chart will actually be "requoting" earlier uses, so the shift is even more extreme than you might think at first glance. Do like everyone else, and stick with would. It's a complete waste of time you trying to understand a semantic difference that almost never exists anyway. Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 12:09
  • ...instead of (1) I would use "It will help if you give more context" you should be saying (2) I will use "It would help if you gave more context." Note that it's not particularly important to "backshift" give to gave in (2), because it's perfectly possible to parse it as ...if you [would] give more context (with would "elided / deleted" because it's a predictable repetition of would before help). Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 12:16
  • I have learnt type 1 conditional and type 2 conditional and the structure of the type 2 conditional can be used to make suggestions. It would help if you gave more context is right in this context. Is it also correct to say "it will help if you give more context in this case?
    – Nyambek
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 12:41
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    @gotube: We must agree to disagree. I think it's ridiculous to suppose the real-world interactions between typical Anglophones can have changed so dramatically as to completely reverse idiomatic preference. Social interactions / behaviour / circumstances don't change that much that fast, but language certainly does! Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 22:00

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