2

This second part would hopefully come in handy tonight.
This second part will hopefully come in handy tonight.

Which one is correct and why?

6

Will.

The subjunctive mood (would) is probably not appropriate in this sentence, since you reasonably expect the second part to come in handy.

  • 4
    It's conditional, rather than subjunctive. It would also be appropriate if the whole thing were in the past "Yesterday I reckoned that this second part would come in handy". – Colin Fine Nov 16 '10 at 15:35
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    You'd use would in a sentence such as "This second part would hopefully come in handy if [something else happened first]". – Marthaª Nov 16 '10 at 15:38
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That depends on what exactly you're trying to express.

'Would' vs 'Will' is determined by whether you are certain that the thing will happen or not. 'Would' allows for the possibility that it might not, and then the rest of the statement is contingent upon it happening.

If you definitely already have the "second part", and tonight is definitely happening, then use 'will'.

If you're still waiting on the "second part", hoping to have it available, then you would use 'would'.

Based on some context in the example sentence, it looks like it is probably best to use 'will'.

This is because the usage of "hopefully" makes 'would' seem a bit redundant. "Hopefully" already implies some doubt as to the outcome. More importantly, the usage of "this", rather than "the", implies that the "second part" is already in hand, meaning that there's no uncertainty regarding its availability.

Dropping "hopefully", you might have

The/this second part will come in handy tonight.

This indicates that you have the part, and you will definitely come in handy tonight.

The second part would come in handy tonight.

This indicates that you don't have the part yet, but if you do have it by tonight, it will indeed come in handy. You probably wouldn't want to use "this" in this situation, rather than "the", unless maybe you're pointing at a drawing of the part or something like that.

With "hopefully", you might have

The/this second part will hopefully come in handy tonight.

You have the part, and you'll definitely use it, but it may or may not come in handy.

The second part would hopefully come in handy tonight.

This sounds pretty awkward to my ear. It's not clear what "hopefully" applies to. Is the speaker unsure if the part will come in handy even if available, or are they unsure if they'll have the part at all? If I wanted to express that I'm unsure if I'll have the part, and even if I do I'm still unsure if it will come in handy (but I hope it does), I'd rephrase the whole thing:

If we have the second part tonight, I hope it comes in handy.

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