I need to know useges of " would " .. in my readings I found it followed by all the tenses . ex:

 I knew that i'd never gone to ... 
 I would not haveimagine it like this .

 It was in this town that I'd been compolled to spened a month .... 


 I'm so confused , If i was the one creating the senteces I don't have a clear idea when to use it . Thank you !

asked Feb 09 '13 at 07:00 JOUDI New member

1 answer




There are four steps I am going to take to answer your great question.


1.  Error correction


There are some spelling and other errors in your example sentences.  Let's fix those first.


I knew that I'd never gone to ...
I would not have imagined it like this.

It was in this town that I'd been compelled to spend a month ....


2.  Clarification of the 'd contraction


In fact, the 'd contraction can be short for either would or had.  In both your first and third sentences, it means had, not would.


I knew that I had never gone to...

....I had been compelled....


3.  How to use would


This is a rather big topic, but let me give a hopefully brief summary of the main meanings.


a. would as the past of will in indirect speech


When you are saying what another person said, and changing it from direct speech to indirect speech, will becomes would


John:  Sally, I will go to London soon.


Sally:  John told me that he would go to London soon.


b. would to show 'the future in the past'


You can also use would when you want to talk about a past action that had not yet happened at the past time you are focused on.


In Vancouver, she met the man of her dreams.  She would marry him five years later.


c. would to make requests and offers sound polite


Would is softer, and thus more polite, than will in requests.


Would you help me, please?


Would like is also more polite than want in offers or statements about what you want.


Would you like some more coffee?

I would like to meet him someday.


d. would to show past willingness or refusals


If you are talking about past willingness of a general kind (not on a particicular occasion), you can use would.


My old girlfriend would do my laundry and the dishes, but she hated cooking.    


Would not, interestingly, works in the exact opposite way: it can be used to show a refusal on a particular past occasion, but not of a general kind.


My computer wouldn't turn on this morning.


e. would to show typical past behavior


If you want to show typical past behavior that is not very important, you can use would.


When I was a child, I would spend most Saturdays at the video arcade.


If the typical past behavior or routine is more important, or if you want to show a typical past state, use used to instead.


When she was young, she used to take piano lessons from Leonard Bernstein!

I used to be a lawyer, but now I'm a police officer.


f. would in conditional sentences to talk about unreal or uncertain situations


Finally, would is the verb to use in the main clause of a conditional sentence if you want to show that the situation is unreal, impossible, or uncertain.  The verb tense in the if-clause is in the past tense, or, when the verb is be, it can be in the subjunctive tense.


If I were rich, I would buy a 500-room mansion. (I am not rich, and don't expect to be.)

If you asked me, I would marry you. (I don't expect that you will ask me.)

If Michael Jackson were alive, I would ask him to marry me.  (He is dead, so it is impossible.)


4. Final comment: had gone


Finally, I wanted to make a comment about your first sentence fragment, I knew that I'd never gone to ...  You did not provide a complete sentence here, so I am not sure of the context.  Also, it is a little strange to say that you knew that you had never [done something]; that is too obvious.  For the purposes of my following comments, I am going to delete the I knew that... phrase from your fragment.


But if you mean "I had never visited [place name]", don't use goneBeen is correct.  For example,  I had never been to Italy.


However, if you mean "I had never attended [school name]", then gone (not been) is correct.  For example, I had never gone to Riverside High.


Either sentence would only require the use of the Past Perfect (had + past participle) if you are connecting two past events; if you are talking about a past experience, you need the Present Perfect (have + past participle) instead.  (For this second meaning, many American speakers would render the sentences without Present Perfect, using simple past verbs instead.) 


I hope this helps.  

link edited Feb 09 '13 at 09:53 Shawn Mooney Expert

Thank you very much for your clear explaining ! This helped me a lot and I will be sure to understand every single point . I want to notice that the examples I have written are taken from a book , and I sorry it's my fault I copied the first sentence in a wrong way and not completed , It must be : I knew that if I'd never gone to Forks , I wouldn't be facing death now . Sorry again ..

JOUDIFeb 09 '13 at 19:07

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