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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.

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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.

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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

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