Would – various usages

Would – various usages: ‘Would’ has various expressions of which a few are discussed here.

(1) It is often meaningless to give students exercises requiring them to put ‘WILL’  into past tense unless ‘Past Reported Speech’ is intended.

  • I said to her, “He will come for the party” (direct speech where ‘Will’ is used.
  • I told her that he would come for the party. (indirect speech where ‘Will’ is converted into ‘would’.
  • He said to us, “We will find a cure the deadly disease.” (direct speech)
  • He told us that we would find a cure for the deadly disease. (indirect speech)

(2) ‘Will’ and ‘Would’ have more or less the same meaning. But, when ‘Would’ is used it shows more hesitancy and greater deference on the part of the speaker to the audience.

  • Will you have some tea? (a simple offer/invitation for a cup of tea)
  • Would you have some tea? (here more deference or respect is shown by using ‘Would’.)

(3)  If you say that someone or something would do something, you mean that they often used to do that thing.

  • Sometimes they would wave at us.(i.e., sometimes they used to wave at us)
  • I would often hear him grumbling to himself.
  • My father would give us minor punishments when we made the same mistake.
  • The old man would sit there for hours together after his wife’s death. (he used to sit…)

(4)  If you say that a particular person or thing WOULD NOT do something, you mean that they refused to do it.

  • Despite of our repeated requests, she wouldn’t go. (i.e., she refused to go)
  • He thought I was a poor man because I wouldn’t purchase costly things from his exhibition shop.
  • However hard I tried, it just wouldn’t open. (i.e., I tried hard but it just didn’t open)

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