Would

State preference, request, habit or excuse

waiter
 

 

Preference / Request—would you?

PREFERENCE - DESIRE

Would you rather  X than Y?  or   Would you rather X or Y? is used to state a preference.

I would rather have my breakfast outside than inside.

We would rather eat fish tonight than meat.

I would rather smoke indoors than outdoors.

I would rather you smoke outdoors than indoors.

I would rather you not smoke here.

We would rather have our coffee before than after our dessert.

REQUEST

Would you or Would you mind (if) is used to make a request.

Would you like having breakfast outside? (Also: Would you like to have…)

Would you suggest some wine to go with our fish dish?

Would you mind if I smoke inside?

Would you mind not smoking in here? (expression followed by a gerund)

Would you not do that please.

Would you please bring me some coffee.

 

Also see Rather than.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would

Preference

 

 

 

Preference / Request

PREFERENCE - DESIRE

Would you rather  X than Y?  or   Would you rather X or Y? is used to state a preference.

I would rather have my breakfast outside than inside.

We would rather eat fish tonight than meat.

I would rather smoke indoors than outdoors.

I would rather you smoke outdoors than indoors.

I would rather you not smoke here.

We would rather have our coffee before than after our dessert.

REQUEST  SOMEONE'S PREFERENCE

Would you or Would you mind (if) is used to inquire about someone's preference.

Would you like having breakfast outside? (Also: Would you like to have…)

Would you suggest some wine to go with our fish dish?

Would you mind if I smoke inside?

Would you mind not smoking in here? (expression followed by a gerund)

Would you not do that please.

Would you please bring me some coffee.

 

Also see Rather than.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would

Past Habit

cigarette butt

 

 

Past Activity vs. Habit

PAST ACTIVITY

The past tense is used to talk about a past activity or habit.

I spent hours smoking.

I hid my smoking habit.
 

FORMER HABIT  - WOULD (USE TO)

Would or used to is used to talk about a discontinued habit. 

I would spend hours smoking.

I would hide my smoking habit whenever somebody asked.
I used to smoke. / I would smoke

 

See Past Habits  (would vs. used to) , Used to / Be used to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would

Excuse vs. Preference

 

 

 

Would have / Would rather have

MAKING AN EXCUSE - WOULD HAVE

Would have is used for making an excuse. A clause may be added with but to give a reason (an excuse.)

I would have stopped smoking, but it was too difficult.  (action did not happen)
I was going to stop smoking, but it was too difficult.

I would have called, but my phone wasn't working. (action did not happen)
I was going to call , but my phone wasn't working.
 

PAST PREFERENCE - WOULD RATHER HAVE

Would rather have is used for stating a past preference that was not satisfied or met.  A clause with but  may be added for emphasis.

I would rather have found an easy way out, but I didn't.

I would rather have been a non-smoker, but I wasn't.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

Do you would like another cup of coffee? 

(auxilliary "do" used with "would".)

I rather have some tea.

(missing auxilliary "would".)

I will like / I'll like a cookie too.  I'll have a cookie too.

(prediction or request?)

SOLUTION

Would you like another cup of coffee? (Remove do.)

Do you like coffee? (Expresses preference in general.)

I'd rather have / I would rather have some tea.  (Add would.)

I would like a cookie too.  (Usingwould is more polite than using will.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Determining Meaning

 

 

 

What is the meaning of would in each sentence?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 1-4" button.

 

1.
Would you mind opening the door for me?

           

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Practice 2

Talking About Hair

hair cut

 

 

 

Which expression best completes the sentence?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 5-15" button.

 

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