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Which of the following sentences is correct? If both are correct, what is the difference in meaning between these two sentences?

  1. A majority of voters approved changes to Russia’s Constitution that would allow president Vladimir Putin to hold power until 2036.

  2. A majority of voters approved changes to Russia’s Constitution that will allow president Vladimir Putin to hold power until 2036.

I know that because the sentence is in the past tense, we should use would.

But considering that the Constitution is still allowing this, and will allow it for some time in the future, can’t we use will?

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3 Answers 3

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The issue is this noun phrase

  • changes to Russia's constitution

and its attendant relative clause

  • that ___ allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.

The question is, what fits into the blank?

And the answer is, just about anything, certainly any modal auxiliary verb, starting with nothing at all:

  • that allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that will allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that would allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that could allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that might allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that may allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.
  • that should allow president Putin to hold power until 2036.

... and so on.

TL;DR - will is not "future tense", and would is not "conditional mood".
Both are modal auxiliary verbs.

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Both are correct. "Would" = it allows Putin to do it but he won't definitely do it. "Will allow" = same as would except it sounds more certain that Putin will do it.

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The first one is correct.

We use would as a past form of 'will'.

(...approved...would...)

...approve...will...

We use will for a prediction.

The fair will last for fifteen days.

We use would for a past prediction or a prediction about a possible situation.

'How about going to the cinema next Sunday.' 'That would be nice.' (possible)

She will talk to him for hours. (present habit)

She would talk to him for hours. (past habit)

[He will buy a shirt.

He said that he would buy a shirt.]

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  • In "A majority of voters approved changes to Russia’s Constitution that will allow president Vladimir Putin to hold power until 2036" it isn't a past prediction; it could be a prediction in the present based on a past action.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 23 at 11:26

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