Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a difference in meaning of the following sentences?

  1. It will take two years to build a bridge on this river.

  2. It would take two years to build a bridge on this river.

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

Yes, though only a subtle one regarding likelihood.

Will, as a future tense, carries with it a bit of certainty. In your first sentence, the bridge is expected to be built and will take two years.

Would, as the past tense of will or as a conditional, indicates a possible or imagined situation. In your second sentence, the bridge could be built, and if it is, it will take two years.

share|improve this answer
In addition, would can add the condition that something necessary is missing for it to succeed. "If we had the steel, it would take 2 years to build a bridge." –  David M Feb 13 '14 at 7:55

will implies it has yet to happen and definitive

and would implies it has yet to happen but not definitive

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.