Learn English Grammar: How to Use the Auxiliary Verb 'WOULD'


Hello. I'm Gill at engVid, and today's lesson is about the verb: "would" and how to use

it. So, it's an auxiliary modal verb, okay? This lesson also links with two other lessons;

one on "could" and the other on "should". So, if you haven't already seen those, do

look out for them.

So, what we have, we have eight different examples of how the word "would" is used in

different kinds of sentences. So, we have the first four here, and then we'll have another

four, and then at the end of the lesson there'll be a little test for you to do yourselves-okay-as

well as the quiz on the website.

Okay, so let's have a look: Use of "would". So, first of all, you can use it in a question.

If you're just offering somebody something: "Would you like...?" So: "Would you like"

is a useful set of words, construction: "Would you like a cup of tea?" So it's... If you

have a guest in your... In your home, something like that, or if you're out in a cafor

you're in the street and there is a caf�: "Would you like a cup of tea? Shall we go

in here?" So, it's a good way of asking a question in a polite way. Okay? So, that's

that one; nice and simple.

And then another one, which is quite simple and straightforward as well as a polite request...

If maybe someone asks you: "What would you like? What would you like?" if they're offering

you some food, so you can reply: "I would like some salad, please", or whatever it is.

If someone is serving some food: "I would like some salad, please." So they're very

similar, using "like" with "would". Right, okay.

So, the next two examples are called conditionals, so they're a little bit more complicated but

we do have some lessons on conditionals as well. So, if you're not sure about conditionals,

do have a look at those. So the first one, it's a kind of... If you're imagining something,

a future situation, it's imaginary... "Hypothetical" is another word for that. Okay? You're imagining:

"Oh, if I won... If I won a lot of money, what would I do?" So: "I would..." What would

you do if you won a lot of money? "I would maybe give some of it to charity", for example.

So, that's just imagining a possible future thing. If you're very lucky and win a lot

of money: "I would", but you wouldn't say: "I will" because it's not definite. "I would"

is because it's not certain or definite that you would win a lot of money; this is just

imaginary or hypothetical. Okay.

And then there's another conditional which is in the past, so it's actually too late

to do anything about it now, but you're saying you would have done something if... If you

had known about it, or whatever. So: "If I had known that your car had broken down"...

If the car breaks down, it's not working, the person can't drive. "If I had known that

your car had broken down, I would have given you a lift in my car." To give someone a lift,

in this context is if you have your car and your neighbour, their car has broken down,

you might say: "Oh, well, I'm going in that direction. I'll give you a lift." Meaning:

You can get in my car as a passenger, I will drive it, and I will drive you to that place,

as your car isn't working. So that's giving a lift. So: "If I had known that your car

had broken down, I would have given", so three verbs there, but have a look at another lesson

for that construction on conditionals. "I would have given you a lift", but the reason

that it's too late, this is one... The conditional... Conditional number three, when it's too late

to do anything about it because you didn't know, so you couldn't offer a lift. So...

But that's... You would use "would" in that situation. "I would have, but I didn't know,

so I didn't." Okay, so that's the first four examples. So let's move on and have a look

at the next four.

Okay, so let's have a look at the next four. So, number five: "would" is used after all

of these question words. So, you probably know all the question words: "Who", "what",

"when", "where", "why", and "how"; so you can use "would" following each of those words

to ask a question. So: "Who would be the best person for this job?" If there's a job vacancy,

people are trying to decide from within the company, perhaps, promote somebody: "Who would

be the best person for this job?" Or maybe they're interviewing people for the job and

they've interviewed a few people, and then they're sitting, trying to decide: "Who would

be the best person for this job?" Okay?

And then for all sorts of questions: "What would you do if...?" If... "What would you

do if you saw a ghost?", "What would you do if you won a lot of money?" Any possibility:

"What would you do if...?" Okay.

Then with "when": "When would you like to travel?" So a travel agent might ask this

because they want to book some tickets for you. "When would you like to travel?" So,

"like" is coming up again. "Would you like...? When would you like to travel?"

Then "where": "Where would you like to go today?" If you're making plans for the day:

"Where would you like to go today?"

And then "why": "Why would she leave her car there?" Maybe she has parked her car in an

unusual place, so: "Why? Why would she park her car there? That's a funny place to put

it. She doesn't usually park it there. Why would she park it there?" Okay.

And then finally "how": "How would he react?" If you told somebody some exciting news or

some bad news, even: "How would he react?" Okay? So that's all with the question words

followed by "would".

The next one is a bit different; it's about regular past action. It's about something

that used to happen regularly in the past. Okay? So, for example: "My neighbour's dog

would howl"... This word "howl" I think I may have mentioned it in another lesson, but

it's the sound a dog makes when it's not happy and it sort of... The word "howl" suggests

the sound the dog makes: "Howl, howl", and it's a kind of crying sound. So, this is actually

true; a neighbour had a dog and the neighbour went out to work every day for the whole day,

and by the afternoon the dog was getting very lonely and upset, and it would howl every

afternoon when my neighbour was out at work. So, I would be in my flat hearing a dog howling

downstairs, and not being able to do anything about it. So, this is something that happened

nearly every day, so it was regular past action. "My neighbour's dog would howl", it's something

the dog did regularly. "...would howl every afternoon". So that's a bit different from

some of these other uses. Okay.

The next one is to do with preference; preferring one thing rather than another. So, with preference:

"I prefer tea, not coffee", that sort of thing. "I prefer chocolate, not strawberries". Or

I like both, really, but anyway. Preference, if you prefer something. And this one, with

"would", you have to use either the word: "rather" or "sooner", either of these, but

"rather" is used a bit more, I think, than "sooner". So you use either: "rather" or "sooner"

with "would", plus this word: "than". So, in the example here: "I would rather drink

tea than coffee in the afternoon." Okay? So, we've got: "rather" and "than". "I would rather

drink tea than coffee in the afternoon." You could just as easily say "sooner": "I would

sooner drink tea than coffee in the afternoon." Just the same, but "rather" is the more usual

word that people use. Okay? So that means I prefer... I prefer to drink tea rather than

coffee in the afternoon. "I would rather drink", okay.

And then, finally, the idea of somebody's intention; somebody who intends. They have

a plan to do something, or they have agreed or promised to do something, and you can say:

"He said he would clean the kitchen." Okay? So, if somebody says they will do something,

whether you believe them or not depends on the sort of person they are and whether you

can trust them to do what they say. So, someone who says he will clean the kitchen and you

say: "Oh, wow, thank you. That would be so helpful, because I hate cleaning the kitchen

myself, so if you would clean the kitchen that would be great."

But you can also say this... If you have it with an exclamation mark at the end, you might

be saying... You walk into the kitchen and you see a mess, and: "Oh! He said he would

clean the kitchen! You know? What happened?" You're shocked that the kitchen is still dirty

and in a mess; it's not clean and tidy at all. So, it depends. If you use an exclamation

mark at the end, it sort of suggests that the person who promised to do something hasn't

done it. At least they haven't yet done it; perhaps they will do it, perhaps not. But

it's to do with intention. Somebody says they will do something, but we all know that people

don't always do what they say they will do. So, there you are. Okay, so now we'll move

on to a little bit more about using "would" with "have", because there are different forms

with abbreviations, and then we'll have a little test to finish with.

Okay, so let's first of all have a look at the abbreviations or contractions for: "would

have", so "would have" written in full is like that. "Would've", apostrophe "ve". People

say: "would've". "I would've come to your party. I would've, but I didn't know you were

having one, so I didn't." So: "would've" is like "would have" but it's more in... An abbreviation

in speaking, in informal speech. So, the apostrophe shows that there is one or more letters missing;

"ha" is missing, so: "would've", "would've", okay?

Some people don't pronounce the "v" in "would've", they just say: "woulda", "I woulda". So you

sometimes see it written that way. If somebody's writing down what somebody's said, they might

spell it like this, all in one word: "woulda" because that's what it sounds like. Okay.

So it's not correct, but it shows how the person pronounced it.

And then, finally, we have something that's not correct at all and I would advise you

to avoid it, just as we had... Similarly in: "could", "could of", "should of", and here

we have: "would of". People have misunderstood that "ve" here. People misunderstand and think

that's the word "of", but it's not. Okay? So I'm crossing that out with a big red pen

because it's wrong. But not only do you see it written that way, you also hear people

saying it now as if they're saying "of": "I would of done that" because they've misunderstood,

and gradually over the years, instead of: "I would've done that", they've seen it written

"of", they've heard people say it that way, and they say it "would of", but it's completely

wrong, so please try to avoid that one. And if you're speaking, you could say: "would

have" in a more formal situation, like in a job interview; you can say: "would've",

"I would've" in a more informal conversation; "woulda", maybe if other people are saying

it, it's okay just to join in; but please avoid "would of" if you possibly can, even

if you see it written down - it's wrong. Okay.

Right, so let's move on, then, to the little test that I have for you here. So, the first

one here, you're offering somebody a drink, maybe in your home, and you're asking them:

"Tea or coffee?" But you wouldn't normally just say: "Tea or coffee?" You'd say it a

bit more politely than that. So, how would you ask them that question using "would"?

Can you remember from earlier in the lesson? Can you say: "_______ _______ _______ tea

or coffee? _______ _______ _______ tea or coffee?" Okay? So, you start with the word

"would": "Would... Would you... Would you like", okay? So that... That phrase: "Would

you like" is very useful. "Would you like tea or coffee, or something else? Fruit juice?

Water?" Anything. So: "Would you like", okay?

Next one, I've put here: "Same place for holidays", which is just to remind me: If a family go

to the same place every summer for their holidays, it's a regular, repeated action, so there's

a way of saying that, using "would" when it's in the past. So, if you're thinking back maybe

to your childhood, and if you went to the same place for your holidays with your family

perhaps every year, but maybe you don't go there now, you can say: "Every year we..."

Okay? So, can you think of a few words to add using "would"? "Every year we _______

_______ _______". So: "Every year we would go to", and then wherever the place is. France?

The south of France perhaps. "Every year we would go to the south of France for our holidays",

for holidays. Okay. So that was a regular, every year event. "We would go to France".


Next one, your friend promised to phone you and you're waiting for her phone call. So,

you tell someone else: "My friend said _______ _______ _______". How do you say that using

"would"? "She promised to phone" or "He promised to phone". "My friend said _______ _______

_______". So: "My friend said he or she would phone." Okay, and maybe a time or before a

time. "...said he or she would phone before 6 o'clock", something like that. So: "My friend

said he or she would phone", so I'm waiting for their call. Okay.

Right. So, here, this one, you may be in a restaurant or something, or a shop and you're

wanting to buy something or to... The waiter to bring you something, and you want a bottle

of water. Okay? So let's say you're in a restaurant and you'd like a bottle of water. So, you

ask the waiter politely, or you tell the waiter what you want, but you don't say: "I want"

because "I want" is not very polite. So, asking for a bottle of water: "I _______ _______",

okay. So: "I would", what goes with "would"? "I would like", whoops. "I would like a bottle

of water, please". It's always a good idea to include "please". "I would like a bottle

of water, please." Okay. Right.

So, next one, money again. It's difficult to avoid mentioning money. "If I won the lottery..."

The lottery, a lot of countries have a lottery where you buy a lottery ticket and it has

numbers on; and then every week, or once a month or something, a number is taken at random

from a machine or something like that, and somebody wins a lot of money. So that's the

lottery. So: "If I won the lottery"-meaning if I won some money-"I..." So you could answer

this for yourself. If you won a lot of money... "If I won the lottery I _______ _______ _______".

"...I would", and then whatever it is that you would do with the money. "I would buy

a car, a house. I would go on a cruise. Give some money to charity", all sorts of things;

lots of possibilities. So: "I would do something with the money", or: "I would invest it. I

would put it in the bank and keep it safe." Hopefully safe. Okay. Right.

And then the final example, it's a rather complicated situation, but I'll try to explain

it. So you have a neighbour and she has lost her keys to her house, and it's late at night.

Okay? So she can't get into her house at midnight to go to bed. So, she doesn't knock on your

door or anything like that. She has her car there, so she gets into her car and she sleeps

all night in her car. Okay. And then the next morning maybe she finds her keys again. She

was looking in the wrong place, so she had her keys after all. She finds her keys again,

she goes back into her house, and then she might tell you about it later that day. If

she sees you, she might say what a terrible experience she had. She thought she had lost

her keys; she slept in her car.

And you... You actually have a spare room in your house or apartment where she could

have slept there. You would happily have let her come and sleep in your spare room. Okay.

But it's too late now because it's the next day; she's found her keys again - there's

no problem anymore. So, that's the situation. So, it's in the past; it's too late for you

to offer now, but: "If I had known that you had lost your keys, I..." So: "I would...

I would have..." So what would you say? "I would have offered you my spare room", or:

"I would have let you sleep in my spare room", anything like that, but the main thing is:

"I would have... If I had known, I would have tried to help." So that's the main thing:

"I would have". Okay. Right.

So that's all the different uses of the word "would", and with some little bits of information

about contractions and incorrect versions, and so on. And I hope you found the test useful.

As I mentioned, we do also have lessons on the use of: "could" and "should" in a similar

format, so please have a look at those. And there's also a quiz on the website at www.engvid.com,

so please go and test your knowledge on there. And thanks for watching; see you again soon.

Bye for now.