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My recent trip to India exposed me to many sentences using "would" as a polite substitute for "will", as in

Please make sure to leave on time. The last bus would depart at 8PM.

Thanks for checking out early. However, there would be no refund.

I am not familiar with such patterns in AmE or BE. Are they common in particular settings that I'm not aware of? How common are they in India?

Note: the following query seems to return a bunch of other examples (among conditional uses of course) inurl:.co.in "would"

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    Those two examples of yours sound off to my native ear. Where did you get them from? Perhaps you are thinking of the difference between “Will you get out of my way?” versus the softened “Would you please get out of my way?” — neither of which is “conditional”, of course.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 20:08
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    What @tchrist said. Unless OP's example usages are common in India (which seems unlikely to me), I think there are probably no "dialects" where they'd be seen as "polite alternatives". All they indicate to me is "not a native speaker". Commented Jan 17, 2015 at 21:20
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    The OP already stated it did not seem like AmE or BrE, but that he had seen/ heard it in India. I'm not from India, and unless any of you commenters are, or know Indian dialects of English, these comments (including mine) are not responsive, only conjecture. Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 8:29
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    I have heard this construction in Indian English - not all that frequently, though certainly more frequently than in AmE. I think it probably is a hypercorrection, perhaps related to the fact that it is politer to use "could"/"would" rather than "can"/"will" when making requests.
    – senshin
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 17:19
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    As a native speaker of Indian English, I can confirm that a large number of Indians use would in place of will. I can also confirm that this is still considered nonstandard, even in India, which means there is still a large enough population using the currently considered correct versions of will and would. Linguists I've spoken to think this phenomenon of using would in place of will has come about because ESL learners are taught that using would is more polite than will (e.g., Would you like some coffee?).
    – Tragicomic
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 1:57

4 Answers 4

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As a native speaker of Indian English, I can confirm that a large number of Indians use would in place of will. I can also confirm that this is still considered nonstandard, even in India, which means there is still a large enough population using will and would in the sense currently considered correct/accepted. Linguists I've spoken to think this phenomenon of using would in place of will has come about because ESL learners are taught that using would is more polite than will (e.g., Would you like some coffee?).

This can cause some confusion when people from India interact with people from other parts of the world. A colleague of mine missed a deadline because a counterpart of his in the U.S. said, "I would send the report today." My colleague assumed this meant that the U.S. employee would send the report, since he (my colleague) took would to mean the same thing as will.

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I just asked one of my friends from India and she confirmed the use of 'would' instead of 'will'. She said that it is very common in India. However, she thinks that most people do not use 'would' to be polite. She said that 'will' and 'would' are interchangeable in India. Finally, the use of 'would' to express the future other than in past sentences seems to be endemic to India. Hope this helps.

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You would only use "there would be no refund" when describing conditional situation, i.e. "you could check out early but there would be no refund".

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    This doesn't really answer the question. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 17:23
  • So if the question is "how common is this", I don't know, but more people saying it doesn't make it grammatically correct!
    – SuzieQ
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 17:43
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    Actually, more people saying something is the only thing that will ever make anything grammatically correct. And the question was quite specifically whether this use of would to mark politeness, though quite nonexistent in BrE and AmE, are in fact in common usage somewhere. Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 0:35
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it's not about dialect. they hold barely different meanings.

would - would stand for "if that particular thing happened/happens, then it Would.. (it might be.. it could be..)

whereas

will - is a helper verb to form a sense of future tense.

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    No, not in this case. These were definitely references to things in the future.
    – Clément
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 16:54

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