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which one is correct OR what is the difference between the following sentences:

I think the duration of the meeting would be two hours.

I think the duration of the meeting will be two hours.

  • Second is correct, the first needs either "around two hours" or "assuming we do not talk too long" – mplungjan Oct 29 '13 at 10:10
  • More likely would be I think the meeeting will last about two hours. – Barrie England Oct 29 '13 at 10:16
  • @mplungian I agree the second is correct. But you couldn't change 'will' to 'would' merely by adding either of the clauses you propose. It remains 'will'in those situations. In order to employ'would' you need to introduce a stronger element of doubt. e.g. You could say' I think the duration of the meeting would normally be two hours but...' or 'would normally be two hours, however...'. – WS2 Oct 29 '13 at 10:20
  • Hence the comment rather than answer – mplungjan Oct 29 '13 at 10:22
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As the OP is talking about a future event, the question being asked is whether to use 'will' or 'would'. 'Would' may only be used in such circumstances if there is doubt, uncertainty, or some form of impediment to the likely duration.

As it stands 'I think the meeting will last for two hours'is perfectly correct grammar. Even a small amount of doubt does not change this. e.g. I think the meeting will last for two hours, provided Charlie doesn't speak too long'.

However as soon as you introduce a word like 'but', or 'however' then it calls for 'would'. 'I think the meeting would last for 2 hours, but for the fact that Henry is sure to ramble on for an hour or more'.

You can say 'I think the meeting would last two hours, in normal circumstances', because it carries an implication of abnormal circumstances and hence of the meeting going on longer (or shorter).

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I'd most likely say:

I think the meeting will last for two hours.

You could say,

When I was working for a firm in Oxford, we had weekly meetings and each meeting would last for two hours.

  • Yes, but your 'would' here, in the example about the firm in Oxford, does not replace 'will'. It is dealing with past events. The OP was asking which of 'will' and 'would' to employ. What I'm saying is that you can only change 'will' to 'would' if you introduce doubt or uncertainty. – WS2 Oct 29 '13 at 10:46
  • @WS2 I don't think the OP says anything about past or future. The question is a flat two-choice thing. – Noah Oct 29 '13 at 11:16
  • He is asking for a choice between 'will' and 'would'. 'Will' usually implies the future! – WS2 Oct 29 '13 at 11:38

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