Difference Between Would and Will (With Table)

Would and will are two words in the English language that are used widely in conversations. However, it can often be confusing to place them correctly in a sentence. This is because of the obscure parameters of tenses that they have. Therefore, understanding the difference between them can be useful for the sake of accuracy.

Would vs Will

The difference between would and will is that the term ‘would’ is always used in past tense with the connotation that a future event might take place if the conditions line up whereas the term ‘will’ is always used in the present tense with the connotation that a future event is certainly bound to take place.

‘Would’ is the past tense form of the term ‘will’. It is generally used to refer to future events that may or may not take place. There is a slight degree of uncertainty inferred on its usage. However, the modal verb is often used to denote past occurrences as well. In such cases, it has a meaning similar to ‘used to’.

Meanwhile, will is a term in the present tense which is generally used to express inevitable events that are supposed to take place in the future. There is a major degree of certainty inferred on its usage. Like ‘would’, the term ‘will’ is also a modal verb. However, it is never used in the past tense form.

Comparison Table Between Would and Will

Parameters of ComparisonWouldWill
TenseIt is used in the past tense form.It is used in the present tense form.
IndicationIt indicates that an occurrence may or may not take place in the future.It indicates that an occurrence will certainly take place in the future.
ConnotationIt is used to express requests, permissions, and preferences.It is used to express decisions, promises, offers, and predictions.
UsageIt is used only in second or third conditional sentences.It is always used in first conditional sentences.
MannerismIt exhibits politeness.It exhibits a lack of politeness.

What is Would?

The term ‘would’ is a modal auxiliary verb which essentially means that it is used along with other verbs to convey ideas such as possibility, requests, permissions and preferences. It is always used in past sense form but can indicate multiple things. Most commonly, the term is used to describe a future event that may or may not take place.

There is a slight degree of uncertainty that is inferred from the usage of this word. However, it can also be used to describe an event that had to take place in the future at the time of the original usage, but the occurrence is no longer in the future. This is essentially ‘future in the past.’

‘Would’ is always used in second or third conditional sentences. These sentences are used when the statement conveys something improbable and unreal respectively. Moreover, the term can even be contracted to “‘d” at times. This is used in words such as “I’d” and “you’d”.

Some examples of ‘would’ in a sentence are –

‘Akita said that she would pick up the pizza on her way home.’

‘The staff said that the new employee would be Akita.’

‘I would ask you out for a coffee date, but I am late for work.’

What is Will?

Like ‘would’, the term ‘will’ is a modal auxiliary verb. However, it is always used in the present tense form. The word expresses decisions, promises, offers, and predictions. It is used to talk about events that are surely going to take place in the future. Unlike ‘would’, ‘will’ lacks a bit of politeness.

Throughout history, the term was only used in the second or third person in the form of simple future tense. Instead, the term ‘shall’ was used in the first person to denote a future occurrence with certainty. However, the difference between the two has no effect on today’s conversations. They are treated to be one and the same.

‘Will’ is only used in the first conditional statements. This is when the sentence infers certainty and surety. The usage of the term changes when contractions such as “n’t” are applied. In this case, ‘will’ becomes ‘won’t’.

Some examples of ‘will’ in a sentence include –

‘We will reach the station at 5 am the day after tomorrow.’

‘The employer will allow Akita to join the team at the earliest opportunity.’

‘I will buy a new watch tomorrow from my uncle’s store.’

‘The report says that there will be an eruption at Mount Aso tomorrow.

Main Differences Between Would and Will

  1. Would is used in past tense form whereas will is used in the present tense form.
  2. Would indicates that an occurrence may or may not take place in the future whereas will indicates that an occurrence will certainly take place in the future.
  3. Would is used to express requests, permissions, and preferences whereas will is used to express decisions, promises, offers, and predictions.
  4. Would is used only in second or third conditional sentences whereas will is always used in first conditional sentences.
  5. Would exhibits politeness whereas will exhibits lack of politeness.

Conclusion

Would and will are modal auxiliary verbs that can be used to indicate multiple things. Therefore, it may become difficult for many to use each of the two correctly in sentences. However, understanding the difference between them may help clear the matter.

One of the most notable distinguishing factors between the two terms is that ‘would’ is the past tense form of will whereas ‘will’ is the present tense form of would. Each of them expresses different things. While ‘would’ expresses improbability, uncertainty, and something unreal, ‘will’ expresses probability, certainty, and reality.

This indicates that the term ‘would’ can only be used in second and third conditional sentences whereas ‘will’ is always used in first conditional sentences only. Another major difference is that when would is used, a certain degree of politeness is inferred. However, using will in many sentences often shows a lack of politeness, despite being grammatically correct.

References

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/4f757adceaa1acc0e36e168f6a83f233/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
  2. https://www.survey.unitec.ac.nz/handle/10652/2388
x
2D vs 3D