Definition of would
past tense of will
1a archaic : wished, desiredb archaic : wish for : wantc (1) : strongly desire : wish I would I were young again —often used without a subject and with that in a past or conditional construction would that I had heeded your advice (2) —used in auxiliary function with rather or sooner to express preference he would sooner die than face them
2a —used in auxiliary function to express wish, desire, or intent those who would forbid gamblingb —used in auxiliary function to express willingness or preference as ye would that men should do to you — Luke 6:31 (King James Version)c —used in auxiliary function to express plan or intention said we would come
3 —used in auxiliary function to express custom or habitual action we would meet often for lunch
4 —used in auxiliary function to express consent or choice would put it off if he could
5a —used in auxiliary function in the conclusion of a conditional sentence to express a contingency or possibility if he were coming, he would be here nowb —used in auxiliary function in a noun clause (such as one completing a statement of desire, request, or advice) we wish that he would go
6 —used in auxiliary function to express probability or presumption in past or present time would have won if I had not tripped
7 : could the barrel would hold 20 gallons
Origin and Etymology of would
Middle English wolde, from Old English; akin to Old High German wolta wished, desired
First Known Use: before 12th century
WOULD Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of would for English Language Learners
—used to indicate what someone said or thought about what was going to happen or be done
—used to talk about a possible situation that has not happened or that you are imagining
—used with have to talk about something that did not happen or was not done
WOULD Defined for Kids
Definition of would for Students
past of 1will
1 —used as a helping verb to show that something might be likely or meant to happen under certain conditions They would come if they could. If I were you, I would save my money.
2 —used to describe what someone said, expected, or thought She said she would help me. I thought it would take an hour.
3 —used as a politer form of will Would you please stop?
4 : prefers or prefer to They would die rather than surrender.
5 : was or were going to We wish that you would go.
6 : is or are able to : could No stone would break that window.
7 : strongly desire : wish I would that I were home.
Seen and Heard
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