American English

Definition of would modal verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



     modal verb
    modal verb
    , NAmE//əd//
    , NAmE//d//
    , NAmE//wʊd//
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  1. 1used as the past form of will when reporting what someone has said or thought He said he would be here at eight o'clock (= His words were: “I will be there at eight o'clock.”). She asked if I would help. They told me that they probably wouldn't come.
  2. 2used for talking about the result of an event that you imagine She'd look better with shorter hair. If you went to see him, he would be delighted. Hurry up! It would be a shame to miss the beginning of the play. She'd be a fool to accept it (= if she accepted).
  3. 3used for describing a possible action or event that did not in fact happen, because something else did not happen first If I had seen the advertisement in time I would have applied for the job. They would never have met if she hadn't gone to Emma's party.
  4. 4so that/in order that somebody/something would used for saying why someone does something She burned the letters so that her husband would never read them.
  5. 5wish (that) somebody/something would used for saying what you want to happen I wish you'd be quiet for a minute.
  6. 6used to show that someone or something was not willing or refused to do something She wouldn't change it, even though she knew it was wrong. My car wouldn't start this morning.
  7. 7used to ask someone politely to do something Would you mind leaving us alone for a few minutes? Would you open the door for me, please?
  8. 8used in polite offers or invitations Would you like a sandwich? Would you have dinner with me on Friday?
  9. 9would like, love, hate, prefer, etc. something/(somebody) to do something would rather do something/somebody did something used to say what you like, love, hate, etc. I'd love some coffee. I'd be only too glad to help. I'd hate you to think I was criticizing you. I'd rather come with you. I'd rather you came with us.
  10. 10would imagine, say, think, etc. (that)… used to give opinions that you are not certain about I would imagine the job will take about two days. I'd say he was about fifty.
  11. 11I would… used to give advice I wouldn't have any more to drink,if I were you.
  12. 12used for talking about things that often happened in the past synonym used to When my parents were away, my grandmother would take care of me. He'd always be the first to offer to help.
  13. 13(usually disapproving) used for talking about behavior that you think is typical “She said it was your fault.” “Well,she would say that,wouldn't she?She's never liked me.”
  14. 14would that… (literary) used to express a strong wish Would that he had lived to see it. Grammarmodal verbsThe modal verbs are can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, and would. Dare, need, have to, and used to also share some of the features of modal verbs.Modal verbs have only one form. They have no past or present participles and do not add -s to the 3rd person singular form:He can speak three languages. She will try and visit tomorrow.Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb without to. The exceptions are ought to and used to:You must find a job. You ought to stop smoking. I used to smoke, but I quit two years ago.Questions are formed without do/does in the present or did in the past:Can I invite Mary? Should I have invited Mary?Negative sentences are formed with not or the short form -n’t and do not use do/does or did:You shouldn't invite Mary. The error will not have affected our results.You will find more help with how to use modal verbs at the dictionary entries for each verb. Grammarshould / ought to / had betterShould and ought to are both used to say that something is the best thing or the right thing to do, but should is much more common:You should take the baby to the doctor’s. I ought to give up smoking.In questions, should is usually used instead of ought to:Should we call the doctor?Had better can also be used to say what is the best thing to do in a situation that is happening now:We’d better hurry or we’ll miss the train.You form the past by using should have or ought to have:She should have asked for some help. You ought to have been more careful.The forms should not or shouldn’t (and ought not to or oughtn’t to, which are rare) are used to say that something is a bad idea or the wrong thing to do:You shouldn’t drive so fast.The forms should not have or shouldn’t have and, much less frequently, ought not to have or oughtn’t to have are used to talk about the past:I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have lost my temper.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: would