My question pertains to one specific form of usage of "would". Is is inappropriate or even incorrect or, a fortiori, not understandable, if we use (read as: on utilise) "would" when referring to present habits, if we do not want to render a general statement, but rather a specific, concrete, to-one-person-relating one; when we would like to describe one´s typical approach or typical characteristic, one´s peculiarities.

Thank you! :)


(1) Here I think "would" is more appropriate. It is 8 a.m. My friend would (usually) get in a hurry when having overslept. vs. It is 8 a.m. My friend will (usually) get in a hurry when having overslept.

(2) Here I think "will" is more appropriate. Sun would (always) rise in the east. vs. Sun will (always) rise in the east.

  • 1
    An example would be helpful. Oct 8, 2014 at 16:32
  • Here you are :).
    – Curve
    Oct 8, 2014 at 16:43
  • 1
    This is not as simple to answer as it might appear. More information is needed. Using will or would can depend on factors such as when one is speaking. If it is long after the event when recalling someone's past habits, then 'would' would seem to fit? Please could you supply more information for each example, who is speaking, when etc? What is the status of the words in brackets? In the first example the gram mar is not perfectly correct in either example. What exactly do you mean by 'get in a hurry'. Do you mean 'hurry'? 'My friend will hurry if he oversleeps'. Is that what you are saying?
    – WS2
    Oct 8, 2014 at 16:55
  • Yes, I mean hurry.
    – Curve
    Oct 8, 2014 at 17:11
  • And that is exactly the point - all depends on the concrete cummunicational situation! Other possibilities for the senteces may be: Tom would do something like that (when facing something) for the first example; A friend will always help you (if you are in need) for the second one.
    – Curve
    Oct 8, 2014 at 17:13

2 Answers 2


Will in both cases: It's 8 a.m.; what your friend will do is not yet in the past. The Sun continues to exist, and will rise in the East.

  • Or the simple present, "the sun rises…" etc., but yes; would makes the whole clause read as if it is about the past.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 6, 2015 at 3:54

I think your example 'Tom would do something like this' would be correct concerning the present only if it is in the context of an unreal hypothetical. I.e. Tom isn't doing it; he's not here to ask, but based on my knowledge of him and his behaviour in this present situation he 'would' do such and such. This would be the basic grammar characteristic of back-stepping a tense in unreal contexts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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