Would: Modals of Ability

Modal Verbs - 2 minutes

Introduction

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary (helping) verb that has no meaning on its own but it modifies the main verb, changes its meaning and gives more details about the action.

The verb would is a modal verb used to express willingness in the past, polite request, preferences/desires, offers and invitations.

Form

The modal verb would is used as an auxiliary verb and has three forms:

Affirmative

Its structure, in the affirmative form, is:
Subject + would + verb + …

  • The short form affirmative of would is ‘d.
SubjectwouldVerb
Iwouldwork
Youwouldwork
Hewouldwork
Shewouldwork
Itwouldwork
Wewouldwork
Youwouldwork
Theywouldwork

Negative

Its structure, in the negative form, is:
Subject + would + not + verb + …

  • Short form of the negative form is wouldn’t.
Subjectwould + notVerb
Iwould notwork
Youwould notwork
Hewould notwork
Shewould notwork
Itwould notwork
Wewould notwork
Youwould notwork
Theywould notwork

Interrogative

Its structure, in the interrogative form, is:
Would + subject + verb + …?

WouldSubjectVerbQuestion Mark
WouldIwork?
Wouldyouwork?
Wouldhework?
Wouldshework?
Woulditwork?
Wouldwework?
Wouldyouwork?
Wouldtheywork?

Example

  1. Willingness in the past
    • She would play the piano
    • She wouldn’t play the piano.
    • Would she play the piano?
  2. Polite request
    • Would you open the window, please?
  3. Preferences/ desires
    • I would like to have some coffee.
  4. Offers and invitations
    • Would you come to my party.

Use

We use would to express:

  1. Willingness in the past: to be able to do something in the past;
  2. Polite requests: to make polite requests;
  3. Preferences/desires: to talk about preferences or desires;
  4. Offers and invitations: to make an offer or to invite someone.

Summary

The modal verb would expresses willingness in the past, polite request, preferences/desires, offers and invitations.

The structures are:

  • Affirmative: Subject + would + verb + …
  • Negative: Subject + would + not + verb + …
  • Interrogative: Would + subject + verb + …?

For example:
— Affirmative: “She would play the piano.”
— Negative: “She wouldn’t play the piano.”
— Interrogative: “Would she play the piano?

NOTE: The form is always the same, even for the third person singular.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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English Grammar A1 Level for Hungarian speakers Copyright © 2018 by books4languages. All Rights Reserved.

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