Would Have vs Will Have: Difference and Comparison

The rules of English grammar are not a piece of cake for everyone. And learning structural grammar is not everyone’s thing either.

Certain nuances of English grammar are not known to everyone, and eventually, one tends to accept the incorrect version. One basic example of this is the usage of will have and would have. 

Key Takeaways

  1. “Would have” indicates a hypothetical or unrealized past event, while “will have” refers to a future completed action.
  2. “Would have” is used in the third conditional, whereas “will have” is used in the first or future perfect tense.
  3. “Would have” is used in expressing regret, while “will have” is used for making future predictions or assumptions.

Would Have vs Will Have

The difference between would have and will have is that would have is used as the past form of will have. Will have, on the contrary, is used when one is looking at the future from a point in time.

Would Have vs Will Have

Would have is the past form of will have and is used to indicate something that may have happened in the past but did not happen due to any reason. It is followed by the third form of verb or past participle.

Will have is used for simple future perfect tense. It indicates something that will be already completed by the time another thing happens in the future.

It is used when one is looking back from a certain period to the future. It is also followed by the third form of the verb.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWould HaveWill Have
Meaning It is used when one talks about imaginary situations in a sentence. It is used when one expects something to be completed before a certain time in the future.
TensePast Tense of ‘will have.’Future Perfect Tense
IndicationsIt indicates making requests or seeking permission. It is used to indicate actions that will be completed in the future.
SituationA possible situation Certainty of situation
ExampleWe would have gone shopping if it hadn’t rained today. By the end of the year, we will have got married.

What is Would Have?

Would have is a past modal verb and is used to express situations that did not really happen. It can be used in two structures.

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One is used with but to show something was meant to be done but did not happen.

It is used as a helping verb in the past tense and is supported by the third form of the verb. It is also used in the conditional tense.

In other words, it is used to indicate something that did not happen. For example, he would have been sad had he not seen you.

Would have is also used as the past tense form of will have. ‘Have’ in this remains unchanged. And because of this, the third form of the verb remains constant.

For example, I would have brought an umbrella had I known about the weather.

It is also used to form the result of the past unreal conditionals in a sentence. That is, if one clause of the sentence expresses the unreal conditionals, then it would have been used to show the result of that clause.

For example, if I had known they were non-vegetarians, I would have made steak for them.

Such conditional sentences can be reversed as well. Would Have can be used in the initial as well as the later part of the sentence.

What is Will Have?

It will have indicates the implication of the future in a sentence. The action implicated in the sentence will be completed when we reach in future.

And that action will be finished/completed in the future too. There is a sense of certainty here.

Will have is used to make the future perfect tense. The verb is used in past participle, irrespective of the singularity or plurality of the subject.

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For instance, they will have played football by then; I will have written the today by then. These examples show that the action will be completed at a certain time in the future.

Will have can be used in four different types of sentences- affirmative, interrogative, negative, and negative interrogative. In negative sentences, ‘not’ is added after will and before have. And, in contractions, it is used as ‘won’t.’

The future perfect tense makes the reference to the action relative to the absolute future. Adding the reference of time in such sentences is significant.

Otherwise, the sentence may sound vague and incomplete.

Will have can also be used to make a reference to any event that could have happened in the past. Observe this example- I will have submitted it on the previous Wednesday.

Here, the possibility of an event in the past is addressed. However, the possibility of its certainty is addressed. 

Main Differences Between Would Have and Will Have

  1. Would have is used to indicate the possibility of an event, whereas will have marks the certainty of the action.
  2. Would have is the past tense of will have, whereas will have is the base form of the verb.
  3. Will have confirms the certainty of action and always refers to incidents that would happen in the future. However, it would have indicated imaginary situations.
  4. Will have is to make references to action in future but would have can be used to make references to past and possible future.
  5. Would have is used to refer to the past that did not happen but will have is used to look back from a point in time to the future. 
Difference Between Would Have and Will Have
  1. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5wd0w3sz
  2. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5wd0w3sz
  3. https://search.proquest.com/openview/4f757adceaa1acc0e36e168f6a83f233/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y

Last Updated : 04 August, 2023

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