Is there anything wrong in this sentence?

"I would go to work tomorrow if the buses were plying."

I know it is not wrong to use 'would' in hypothetical sentences in the past and present tense:

"I would finish the project by today if I were you."
"I would have made the necessary changes had I been the leader."

But what about the future tense, as shown in the first sentence?
Is it incorrect? And if it is, what would be the correct way to say it?

P.S: See what I did there? ;) :P


2 Answers 2


The use of would in the first sentence is grammatical, but it isn’t a future tense, and in speech it would normally occur as I’d. (The use of plying is a little strange. The normal colloquial word would be running.)

  • Thanks! But, then, what is the tense of the first sentence? Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 7:21
  • 2
    Only verbs have tenses. Sentences don’t, but they can, as here, have future reference. Would is invariable and cannot be spoken of in terms of tense, except when it is viewed as the past tense of will. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 7:25
  • 3
    To answer Mikhail’s implied question: this is still a conditional, hypothetical construction. The fact that it references the future is basically irrelevant—only the word ‘tomorrow’ indicates that this is not a simple present-reference sentence. Conditional constructions can only be expressed in present and past tense, the present tense also representing the future tense’s meanings. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 7:29
  • Of course! How could I forget that! My classmates really confused me when I put forward this sentence, insisting it is wrong because I've used 'would' and 'were' (which are indicative of past tense) with 'tomorrow', thus muddling up the 'tense of the sentence'. Thanks, both of you. :) Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 7:30

I've heard that "would" would normally be used in the past or in the present, not in the future.

  1. I would get to work by bike if I were you.
  2. I would have won the race if a hadn't taken such a narrow angle.

If we talk about the future that can happen, why would somebody use "would"?

"I would go to work tomorrow if the buses were running," doesn't make sense. "I will go to work tomorrow if the buses will run." seems more appropriate.

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