Would is a modal verb that has the function of auxiliary verb. As the name says, it has the function of helping, in this case, the main verb.

Furthermore, would is will’s past .

Examples :

  • I will buy that car. (I will buy that car.)
  • I would buy that car. (I would buy that car.)

The difference between will and would is that will indicates something that will happen in the future and would indicate something that would happen in the past .

As with almost all auxiliary verbs, the verb would in English does not have a translation by itself and its meaning is subordinated to the verb it helps.

Example : I would travel to New York If I had the money . (I would travel to New York if I had the money.)

Note that in the above sentence would travel is translated as travel , that is, the meaning of travel is dominant.

The verb would is used to:

  • Indicate possibility;
  • Order something politely;
  • Offer something;
  • Refer to a hypothetical situation.

When to use would ?

Would is used to express indicate possibility , ask for something politely , offer something and refer to a hypothetical situation .

He is one of verbs modal (modal verbs) most important of the English language.

The modal verb would have the function of assisting the main verb in the sentence.

Examples :

  • How would you do that? (How would you do that?) – POSSIBILITY
  • Would you help me, please? (Could you help me, please ?.) – ASK FOR SOMETHING
  • Would you like a cup of coffee? (Would you like a cup of coffee?) – OFFER SOMETHING
  • She would buy a house on the beach if she had the money. (She would buy a house on the beach if she had money.) – HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION

Note that in the hypothetical situation have a clause if (sentence with it ) which is a conditional sentence (conditional sentence), or a certain condition to be reality (have money) to another happens (buy the house).

Whenever we have a conditional sentence with would and if , we are referring to a hypothetical situation that would have happened in the past (and can no longer happen) if a situation was a reality.

These phrases are called second conditional .

See also: Conditional sentences

How to use would ?

As it is a modal verb, it would always be accompanied by a main verb in the infinitive without the to .

Example : He would love to meet you . (He would love to meet you.)

In the sentence above, the main verb in the infinitive is to love (to love; to adore), however, we remove the to and use only love .

See also: Modal Verbs

The use of would can occur in affirmative , negative and interrogative sentences .

Observe the table below and learn how to use the verb would in the affirmative, negative and interrogative forms. The main verb used as an example is the verb to buy .

I would / ‘d buy
You would /’ d buy
He would / ‘d buy
We would /’ d buy
You would / ‘d buy
They would /’ d buy
I would not / wouldn’t buy
You would not / wouldn’t buy
He / she / it would not / wouldn’t buy
We would not / wouldn’t buy
You would not / wouldn’t buy
They would not / wouldn ‘ t buy
Would I buy?
Would you buy?
Would he / she / it buy?
Would we buy?
Would you buy?
Would they buy?

See also: English verbs


  • In the affirmative, we use the wouldfor all people, including he / she / it . The Simple Present rule that requires adding the -s for third-person push-ups is not applied here. The contracted form of would is ‘ d . Example : I would prefer to stay home = I’d prefer to stay home (I’d rather stay at home).
  • To form sentences in the negative form, we can use would notor the contracted form wouldn’t . The meaning of both forms is the same.
  • When making sentences with wouldin the interrogative form, just change the placement of this modal verb in the sentence: unlike what happens in the affirmative, in the interrogative the verb would would be positioned before the subject.
  • If we try to make a comparison with the verb tenses of the Portuguese language, it wouldplay the same role as the Future of the Past .
  • When used in interrogative phrases, the wouldgenerally express the idea that the sender of the message is asking a question in a kind way; polite. Example : Would you do me in favor? (Could you do me a favor?)

See also: Simple Present

Use of would rather , would prefer and prefer

Regarding the literal meaning of the verb prefer and the phrases would rather and would prefer , the translation is the same: preferir .

Examples :

  • I would rather go to the movies. (I prefer / prefer to go to the cinema.)
  • I would prefer to go to the movies. (I prefer / prefer to go to the cinema.)
  • I prefer to go to the movies. (I prefer / prefer to go to the cinema.)

See also: The most commonly used modal verbs in English

Prefer to use

The verb prefer (to prefer) is used when we want to refer to a general preference that we have in our lives.

If a person says, for example, that he prefers forró, we can understand that in general, that person prefers forró over all other types of music.

In other words, it is not a momentary preference and refers to a specific situation, but to a whole.

Examples :

  • I prefer to go to the beach on Sundays. (I prefer to go to the beach on Sundays.)
  • He prefers to play soccer in the morning. (He prefers to play football in the morning.)

See also: The most commonly used modal verbs in English

Use of would rather and would prefer

The phrases would rather and would prefer are synonymous and mean to prefer.

Both are used to refer to a more specific preference related to a specific situation.

Let’s imagine a situation where two friends go to a restaurant, but end up disliking the background music and one of them suggests going elsewhere.

Example :

A: Let’s try another place. (Let’s try another place.)
B: I am so tired I would prefer to stay here or I am so tired I would rather stay here . (I am so tired that I prefer to stay here).

Note that caller B says he prefers to stay where he is in that specific situation; it does not mean that he always prefers this same restaurant in general. In other words, this is a somewhat momentary preference.


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