Unit 5.1

Would: Modals of Ability

Modal Verbs


Introduction

A modal verb is a type of auxiliary (helping) verb that has no meaning on its own but modifies the main verb, changes its meaning and gives more detail 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. Offers and invitations
    • Would you like to come to my cousin’s party?
  2. Polite request
    • Would you open the window, pleaseIt’s hot today.
  3. Preferences/ desires
    • I would like to have some coffee.
  4. Willingness in the past
    • She would stay with her Grandma during the summer. 
    • She wouldn’t stay in the city during summer.
    • Would she stay in the countryside during summer?

Use

We use would when we express:

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

Summary

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

We can use it in its different forms:

  • Affirmative: We start with the subject followed by would and the verb.
  • Negative: We start with the subject followed by would not and the verb.
  • Interrogative: We start with would followed by the subject and the verb (the sentence ends with a question mark).

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.

License

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