English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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

closed as off-topic by Centaurus, ScotM, Ellie Kesselman, choster, Tushar Raj May 19 '15 at 19:53

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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

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