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.

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

I'm trying to ask a question about the future. So which form of the verb "will" should I use?

So, when will it be there?
So, when would it be there?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Just talking specifically here for their usage in the future tense:

Both are used for the future. The difference is:

Would is used when the thing discussed is only planned, and not for sure.(subjunctive)

When would the ball game be, if it is going to take place?

Will is used when the thing is already planned, and confirmed that it is going to happen.

So, what was the time when the party will begin?

share|improve this answer
Ooh. Subjunctive mood. – wfaulk Aug 11 '11 at 21:08
Yes, that's the term – Thursagen Aug 11 '11 at 21:09

Would is used to:

  • express a polite request: "Would you pass me the bottle of wine?"
  • express willingness or consent: "Who would like to live there?"
  • express a conjecture, opinion, or hope: "I would imagine that they'll want to stay here."

Would is also the past of will.

The windows would not close.
He said he would not return for a couple of days.

Will in your example is used for a fact: Something will be there, and you want to know then.
If you used would in the sentence, you would ask an opinion or a conjecture; for example, the people to whom you ask don't know exactly, but you want their opinion, or a conjecture about when it could possibly be there.

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.