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How to Use Modal Verbs Will / Would for English

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Brief overview of the Modal Verbs- Will / Would

All modal verbs are auxiliary verbs which means they can only be used with the main verb. The modal verbs include- will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, and must. Here we are going to focus on the modal verbs ‘Will’ and ‘Would’.

The verbs Will’ and ‘Would’ are the modal verbs that cannot be the main (full) verbs alone. They are used as auxiliary verbs only and always need a main verb to follow.

All grammar rules for Modal Verbs- - Will / Would

1. Will is generally used with second and third person forms (i.e. you, he, she, it, they).

  • e.g.: They will not have enough food to eat

2. Will is used with the first person when expressing a strong determination to do something.

  • E.g.: I will not tolerate nonsense in class

3. Would is a modal auxiliary verb mainly used to=

  • talk about the past

  • talk about the future in the past

  • express the conditional mood

  • for other functions such as expressing polite requests and questions, opinion or hope, desire, wish and regret

Sentence patterns for Modal Verbs- Shall / Should

Positive Sentences

Subject + Auxiliary (Will/ would) + main verb

  • e.g.: I would like coffee

Negative Sentences

Subject + Auxiliary (Will/ would) + Not + main verb

  • e.g.: She would not go today

Interrogative Sentences

Auxiliary (Will/Would) + Subject +Main verb

  • e.g.: Would you sing?

All situations the Modal Verbs- Will / Would are used in

Uses of Will

  1. Will is generally used in future structures

a) It is used in the statements referring to the future – fact, timetable, etc

  • e.g.: We’ll (we will) cover forty miles today. Or Their train will leave at 6.00

b) It is used to refer to the instant decisions

  • e.g.: What will you eat? I’ll have a tomato sandwich

c) It is used to indicate a request

  • e.g.: Will you write this chapter for me?

d) It is used to indicate a promise, offer, or prediction

  • e.g.: I will always be available to help you.

1. Would is used to indicate the past form of will

  • e.g.: Tim said he would finish the task allotted the following day.

2. It is used to refer to the half-open or closed condition as an analog of will


  • They would go swimming this weekend if the weather was/were good.

  • We would have gone swimming this weekend if the weather had been good.

3. It can be used in place of ‘will’ however the use of ‘would’ is more polite.

  • e.g.: I have a sore throat, would you mind switching off the AC?

4. Other Uses of Would

  • To offer- e.g.: Would you like some coffee?

  • To make a request- e.g.: I’d (I would) like have tea with my breakfast

  • To make a wish / Plan- e.g.: I’d like to enroll for basketball training

  • To indicate preference- e.g.: I would rather not go to watch that movie

  • To indicate repeated action in the past-e.g.: When we were kids, we would play cricket all-day

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