The following is an excerpt from a newspaper.

In situations where the father has not exhibited any concern for his offspring giving him legal recognition would be an exercise in futility.

Why does the author use would and not will?

3 Answers 3


In this instance, the author uses 'would' as they are speaking about a hypothetical possibility; it is not something that has actually happened. Whereas, using 'will' implies that this has, or shall soon be, taking place, and is a certainty rather than a probability.


user128193 is correct.
For better explanation, I would like to add that would is a past form of will and is often used:

  • in auxiliary functions with rather to express preference

I would rather go shopping today.
We would rather say something than stay quiet.

  • to express a wish or desire

I would like to have one more pencil.

  • to express contingency or possibility

If I were you, I would be so happy.

  • to express routine or habitual things

Normally, we would work until 6 p.m.

So as what user128193 explained, your example is used to express contingency or possibility.

For more info about auxuliary verbs, try to check Talk English.


We use will: to talk about the future – to say what we believe will happen

would is the past tense form of will. Because it is a past tense it is used: to talk about the past.

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