A. We use would (‘d) when we imagine a situation or action:
* It would be nice to have a holiday but we can’t afford it.
* I’m not going to bed yet. I’m not tired and I wouldn’t sleep.
We use would have (done) when we imagine situations or actions in the past:
* They helped me a lot. I don’t know what I would have done without their help.
* I didn’t go to bed. I wasn’t tired, so I wouldn’t have slept.
For would in sentences with if see Units 37-39.
B. Compare will (’11) and would (‘d):
* I’ll stay a bit longer. I’ve got plenty of time.
* I’d stay a bit longer but I really have to go now. (so I can’t stay longer)
Sometimes would/wouldn’t is the past of will/won’t. Compare:
present -> past
Tom: I’ll phone you on Sunday. -> Tom said he’d phone me on Sunday.
ANN: I promise I won’t be late.
-> Ann promised that she wouldn’t be late.
Liz: Damn! The car won’t start. -> Liz was angry because the car wouldn’t start.
C. I wish… would…
Study this example situation:
It is raining. Jill wants to go out, but not in the rain. She says:
I wish it would stop raining.
This means that Jill is complaining about the rain and wants it to stop.
We use I wish… would… when we want something to happen or when we want somebody to do something. The speaker is not happy with the present situation.
* The phone has been ringing for five minutes. I wish somebody would answer it.
* I wish you would do something instead of just sitting and doing nothing.
You can use I wish… wouldn’t… to complain about things people do repeatedly:
* I wish you wouldn’t keep interrupting me.
We use I wish… would… for actions and changes, not situations. Compare:
* I wish Sarah would come. (= I want her to come)
but * I wish Sarah were (or was) here now. (not ‘I wish Sarah would be…’)
* I wish somebody would buy me a car.
but * I wish I had a car. (not ‘I wish I would have…’)
For ‘I wish… were/had (etc.)’ see Units 38B and 39C.
D. You can also use would when you talk about things that happened regularly in the past:
* When we were children, we lived by the sea. In summer, if the weather was fine, we would all get up early and go for a swim. (= we did this regularly)
* Whenever Arthur was angry, he would walk out of the room.
With this meaning, would is similar to used to (see Unit 18):
* Whenever Arthur was angry, he used to walk out of the room.