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Would (Future)


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Why 'would' is used in below sentences, and can it be replaced with 'will'?

1) Such a policy would not be constitutional.

2) The chief's son would inherit all his dominions. 




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Hello Sandeep,

I think that the 2 sentences above have a conditional meaning. : "The chief's son would inherit all his dominions, IF..."(something happens).

If you replace WOULD by WILL, then the sentence will have a future meaning: "The chief's son will inherit all his dominions." It is a certainty, there is no condition in this case.

I hope it helps


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  • Head Tutor

Hello Sandeep and Phil,

As Phil has said, 'would' gives the sentence a hypothetical sense (Second Conditional). 'will' is a prediction of something probably happening in the future:

Conditional 2 (improbable/hypothetical): We are not going to introduce such a policy because (if we did,) it would not be constitutional.
Conditional 1(probable): It is risky to introduce such a policy because (if we do,), it will not be constitutional.

In the other example, the same logic can apply if we are actually discussing what's currently going on in a tribal setting. However, there's another possibility, and that is describing how things used to work in the past (using 'would' as an alternative to 'used to'):

In that culture, whenever a chief died, his son would inherit all his dominions.  

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Thanks Phil and Minoo.

Please see below a paragraph from a news article:

"As the 2020 presidential election inches closer and closer, the last thing President Donald Trump needs is rising gas prices, especially during the summer driving season. And because crude prices generally account for around 60 percent of gas prices at the pump, a war with Iran would be a disaster for American motorists, especially considering that nearly forty percent of the world’s crude comes from OPEC."

Question: Is 'would' (bold) mentioned in the paragraph a conditional 2? Also, my understanding is that  one can use 'would' while giving an opinion. Is it used here as an opinion? Can we use 'will' instead of 'would' as conditional 1 because the situation (war with Iran) does not appear hypothetical/ improbable as required for conditional 2?

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  • Head Tutor

Yes, Sandeep, the 'would' here is an implied Conditional 2: If there were a war, it would be a disaster. It indicates that the author feels that the war is 'improbable'.

If the author had used 'will', the sentence would be an implied Conditional 1 sentence, and would indicate that the author feels that the war is 'probable'.

Therefore, you are right in assuming that the choice of 'would' instead of 'will' expresses the author's opinion as to how probable or improbable an event is. 

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