Difference Between Would and Should (With Table)

There are many languages spoken all around the world, some of them are ancient, some of them have changed a lot that they don’t even similar to what they used to be. English is a language that is spoken in most countries, and many people are familiar with it. But the one who wants to start the English language might be confusing and tedious for them. This is because it is said to be among confusing language due to its grammar and pronunciation.

In grammar, there are modal verbs and tenses. Among them are would and should that are used in all most every sentence and can be quite difficult to understand due to their similarity.

Would vs Should

The difference between would and should is in from which modal verb they are derived as past tense, would is derived from the will, and should is from shall. Both of them are used for different types of actions, would is used for customary actions, for example, I would like to have a cup of tea whereas should is used for obligatory action, for example, you should remove your shoes outside the room. Both of them have different types of indications, would is used in a most uncertain situation where the action is not clear, whereas should is used in a certain situation where is action is obligatory. Not both of them can be used for future reference, only would is appropriate for this. Other than these, they also differ in terms of the formal and informal parts of the speech.

Would is the past tense of the modal verb will. And it is mostly used for customary actions indicating the uncertainty or vagueness of the situation. It can be used for showing the willingness or ability of a person to perform a task. For example, they would have gone for eating dinner out the last night. They can also be used for explaining intentions and thought. It can be used for future reference as well and mostly is part of informal speech.

Should is a past tense of modal verb shall. And it is mostly used for obligatory action that needs or ought to be done, indicating the certainty and conviction of the situation. It can also use used for asking what is the right thing to do or perform and for forming a question. For example, I should complete my assignment before the due date, and should I go to the market without asking my mother?

Comparison Table Between Would and Should

Parameters of ComparisonWouldShould
Past Tense ofWillShall
Actions  Customary actionsObligatory actions
Nature of SpeechInformalFormal
Future referenceCan be used for itCannot be used for it
IndicatesUncertainty or vaguenessCertainty and conviction

What is Would?

Would is an auxiliary word that can be used for expressing the ability, possibility, wish, request, offer, preference, etc. examples of these can be the following:

  • Would you like to join us for breakfast? – Offer
  • I would like to have some more soup. – Request
  • I would rather wait for my mother than do it with my brother – Preference.
  • I would like to be famous and rich one day – Wish

It can also be used for conditional clauses indicating an unlikely or unreal situation. For example,

  • If I were my mother, I would gladly accept the offer.
  • If you had practice, you would have won the match.

 It can be used for future reference:

  • He told me he would bring me cotton candy the next day.
  • Krishna promised that she would do my homework.

It can also be used for what people want to do:

  • My friend would let me wear her dress to the prom.
  • She would not take me to the comic store, so I had to ask my father.

What is Should?

It is used for expressing obligation, advice, duty, and suggestions, etc. following are examples of such usage of should:

Obligations and correctness: 

  • He should have confessed his love.
  • Children should not be allowed to go out at night after 10 pm.

Advice or Suggestion: 

  • You should try to help your friends.
  • Should I make you something to eat?


  • The bus should arrive at the station in half an hour.
  • He should be there by now.

Mostly it is used in a situation that is obligatory and ought to take place or in simple terms to show the obligations. For example, you should practice for your game, you should greet everyone, you should be polite, you should smile at people, etc. it can also be used for describing an expected movement, for example, the courier should be here is 15 minutes, or it is used in a conditional statement such as, I won a lottery, I should go on a world tour.  

Main Differences Between Would and Should

  1. The first most difference between both would and should is that both of them are past tense of different modal verbs, would is derived as the past tense of the modal verb will, whereas should is derived as the past tense of modal verb shall.
  2. Both of them are used for different types of actions, would is generally used for depicting or showing a customary action, means they are used for actions that take place due to ordinary course or commonly practised, etc. whereas should is used for depicting the obligatory actions means, actions that someone might do or is morally prohibited from performing.
  3. They are different types of nature of speech, would is more towards informal meaning it is used for more relaxed or casual conversation with friends or family while should is more formal that is a serious and professional conversation with colleagues, boss, etc.
  4. When compared in terms of future reference, not both of them can be used, for this purpose, would be the ideal choice, as it can be used for refereeing the future tense, whereas should being simple past tense cannot be used for this purpose.
  5. Lastly, both of them might indicate different types of situations. For example, would lead to indicating the uncertainty ad vagueness in a situation whereas should is opposite of it indicated the certainty and conviction of a situation.
  6. For example, I would do my chores the next time. In this, there is uncertainty to perform the task whereas I should do my chores from the next time, and there is a certain certainty in the sentence.


Therefore, with all the above differences and explanations, there should not be any confusion between where ‘would’ have to be used and where should. Both of them are similar and hence can be used interchangeably, but there is a thin line between them, making them different, and this line has to be kept in mind.

Sometimes, misuses of these auxiliary words can change the whole meaning of the sentences leading to misunderstanding or misleading to a wrong conclusion. These little things form the base of the whole language, and it is important to understand them to have a better and in the language. Expect these two the confusing words can be, should be, should have, must, would have, have been, etc.


  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110856132.1183/html
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=XqlJXGVs60EC&oi=fnd&pg=PA185&dq=would+and+should+modal+verbs&ots=C4_KMgJfTR&sig=3K4Svv7OdampO_jbc_4xotJ-XPo
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