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English definition of “would”


modal verb uk   strong /wʊd/ weak /wəd/ /əd/ us  

would modal verb (FUTURE)

B1 (also 'd) used to refer to future time from the point of view of the past: He said he would see his brother tomorrow. They knew there would be trouble unless the report was finished by the next day. We realized it wouldn't be easy to find another secretary. would have used to refer back to a time in the past from a point of view in the future: We thought they would have got home by five o'clock, but there was no reply when we phoned.

would modal verb (INTENTION)

(also 'd) used to refer to an intention from the point of view of the past: He said he would always love her . They promised that they would help. There was nobody left who would (= was willing to) do it. I asked him to move his car but he said he wouldn't (= he refused).

would modal verb (POSSIBLE)

B1 (also 'd) used to refer to a situation that you can imagine happening: I would hate to miss the show. I'd go myself but I'm too busy. It would have been very boring to sit through the whole speech. B1 (also 'd) used with if in conditional sentences (= sentences that refer to what happens if something else happens): What would you do if you lost your job? If I'd had time, I would have gone to see Graham.

would modal verb (REQUEST)

A1 (also 'd) used in polite requests and offers: Would you mind sharing a room? Would you like me to come with you? Would you like some cake?

would modal verb (WILLING)

B1 past simple of will modal verb: used to talk about what someone was willing to do or what something was able to do: The car wouldn't start this morning.

would modal verb (WISH)

would rather/sooner (also 'd) B1 used to show that you prefer to have or do one thing more than another: I'd rather have a beer. Which would you sooner do - go swimming or play tennis? Wouldn't you rather finish it tomorrow? He'd rather die than (= he certainly does not want to) let me think he needed help. would that... formal used to express a strong wish or desire: Would that (= if only) she could see her famous son now.

would modal verb (OFTEN)

B2 (also 'd) used to talk about things in the past that happened often or always: He would always turn and wave at the end of the street. (also 'd) disapproving used to suggest that what happens is expected because it is typical, especially of a person's behaviour: "Madeleine called to say she's too busy to come." "She would - she always has an excuse."

would modal verb (OPINION)

C1 (also 'd) used to express an opinion in a polite way without being forceful: I would imagine we need to speak to the headteacher about this first. It's not what we would have expected from a professional service.

would modal verb (ADVISE)

(also 'd) → should: I wouldn't (= I advise you not to) worry about it, if I were you.

would modal verb (REASON)

(also 'd) → should: Why would anyone want to eat something so horrible?

would modal verb (LIKELY)

(also 'd) used to refer to what is quite likely: "The guy on the phone had an Australian accent." "That would be Tom."
(Definition of would from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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