Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if "would" implies intention but not possibility, then, generally, it must only refer to persons not events. If such is the case, then this sentence, "Would it be right to kill innocent animals?" must be rewritten to sound like,"Is it right to kill innocent animals?" Are both examples correct?

If "would" could also indicate possibility, then why is the following sentence wrong? "I wouldn't be surprised if he would win the contest."

follow up question:

If my understanding is true, does it also apply to "will", such that the sentence, "The next world war will happen in the next three days", be rewritten to sound like, "The next world war probably starts in three days"? Please enlighten me on this issue.

  • 2
    This question has been asked, and answered, on ELU. StackExchange deprecates cross-posting on SE sites; if you like, you may ask the moderators at ELU to migrate the question here by clicking on the 'flag' link below the question there. Dec 3 '14 at 18:19
  • Since both questions have answers, I'm going to recommend leaving them be for now. However, in the future, Jay should only ask a question on one of the two sites. Which one? You can read this for more information.
    – J.R.
    Dec 5 '14 at 10:14

'Would' is considered as polite form of 'will'. You can use 'would' when you're little unsure about something, however, when you're totally sure, you should consider using 'will' instead of 'would'.

I would like to go for picnic. (possibility, but not sure about its happening)
I will go for picnic.  (more stronger than first)
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    That's partially incorrect as would represent a possibility and will represents a certainty. In your sentences, I would like to go for picnic means, as you said, that the speaker wishes he could go on a picnic but something is probably stopping him, or he is simply entertaining the idea of doing so, while in the second one, he says I will go for a picnic, meaning that there is no hesitation, it's a fact that he will go for picnic. Jan 27 '15 at 15:55
  • Thank you, we all here to improve ourselves in English :) Jan 27 '15 at 20:10

In this question, would is the subjunctive (conditional) mood of the verb and is a modal. It's usage is rather complex. But in general, subjunctive forms express possibilities, intentions, beliefs, etc. Contrast that to the indicative mood, which expresses facts.

Hence, would does not need to refer only to persons. It is a possibility that it may rain tomorrow, for example. So we can say: If it would rain, the crops will be saved.

More specifically, it is not only used just for intents but for many other things which are not known, objective facts. One's state of mind, opinion, purpose or desire, or statements contrary to fact, are all common uses of the subjunctive mood.

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