would - definition and synonyms

modal verb 

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Would is usually followed by an infinitive without ‘to’: A picnic would be nice. Sometimes it is used without a following infinitive: They didn’t do as much as they said they would.
In conversation and informal writing, would is often shortened to ’d: I thought you’d like a drink before dinner.
Would does not change its form, so the third person singular form does not end in ‘-s’: As a child, she would often run away from home.
Questions and negatives are formed without ‘do’: Would you like a cup of coffee?He would not tell us his secret.
The negative form would not is often shortened in conversation or informal writing to wouldn’t: I wouldn’t want to have your job.
Would is often used in question tags: You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?
Would has no tenses, no participles, and no infinitive form.
There is no past tense, but would have followed by a past participle can be used for talking about actions that did not happen: She would have bought the house if she had been able to afford it (=she did not buy it).
In some cases would can be used as the past tense of will, for example in indirect speech introduced by a verb in the past tense: I promised that I would visit her the next day.
  1. 1
    used for talking about what was going to happen in the past
    1. a.
      used for showing what someone expected, intended, promised etc when they were thinking or talking about the future

      James said he would never forgive her.

      Most analysts expected that there would be a change in policy.

      ‘Our plan isn’t going to work.’ ‘I never thought it would.’

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    2. b.
      used for talking about something that was going to happen after a particular point in the past

      Here she met the man who would one day become her husband.

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  2. 2
    used for talking about the possible results of a situation that is unlikely to happen or that did not happen

    I’d travel first class if I could afford it.

    What would happen if there was an earthquake?

    would have done something:

    If I’d known you were coming, I’d have got your room ready.

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  3. 3
    used for saying or asking what someone thinks about a possible situation

    You wouldn’t recognize the place now – it’s changed so much.

    It would be fun to have a beach party.

    It’s no use talking to Henry – he wouldn’t understand.

    Why would anyone want to kill Jerry?

    Where would he have hidden the keys?

    I could lend you some – would fifty pounds be enough?

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  4. 4
    used for saying what someone used to do in the past

    The Campbells would sometimes invite us over for the weekend.

    On winter evenings we’d all sit around the fire.

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  5. 5
    spoken used when criticizing someone by saying that a particular action is typical of someone

    ‘Sylvia said it was your fault.’ ‘Well, Sylvia would say that, wouldn’t she?’

  6. 6
    used for politely asking someone to do something or to let you do something

    Would someone please help me move the piano?

    would you mind doing something:

    Would you mind waiting outside?

    would it be all right/okay if...:

    Would it be all right if I used your phone?

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  7. 7
    spoken used when making a polite offer or invitation

    Would you like a cup of coffee or something?

    Would anyone care for a game of tennis?

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  8. 8
    to be willing
    1. a.
      used when you think someone is willing to do something

      Bruce would lend you the money, I’m sure.

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    2. b.
      [always in negatives] used for saying that someone refused to do something on a particular occasion

      I asked her to help me, but she wouldn’t.

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    3. c.
      used for saying that someone was always willing to do something at a time in the past

      During the war people would gladly do extra duties.

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  9. 9
    used for politely saying what someone wants to do or wishes they could do
    would like/love/prefer etc to do something:

    I think David would like to see you alone.

    ‘Come and spend Christmas with us.’ ‘I’d love to, but I can’t.’

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  10. 10
    spoken used for advising someone to do something or for suggesting that they do it

    I’d go carefully if I were you.

    It would be wise to discuss this with your bank manager.