Conjugations With The Auxiliary WOULD

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CHAPTER 8.  CONJUGATIONS WITH THE AUXILIARY WOULD

1. Uses of the auxiliary Would

English verbs conjugated with the auxiliary would are used in a variety of ways. For instance, the auxiliary would is often used in polite requests and suggestions. In the following examples, the verbs conjugated with would are underlined.
e.g. Would you please tell me the time?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to call the office.

The auxiliary would can also express a future in the past, and is used in reporting statements and questions which pertained to the future at the time they were made.
e.g. She asked if we would help her the next day.
They said they would arrange to meet us the following week.

The auxiliary would can also be used in wishes pertaining to the future, and in the main clauses of sentences containing false or improbable conditions. These two uses of the auxiliary would will be discussed in the next chapter.
e.g. I wish they would help us.
It would have saved time if I had known what to do.

2. Formation of conjugations with the auxiliary Would

There are four types of conjugation formed with the auxiliary would: the Simple, the Continuous, the Perfect, and the Perfect Continuous.

The conjugations with would are formed in the same way as the Future conjugations, except that instead of will and shallwould and should are used. In the conjugations with wouldshould may be used for the first person in British English; however, would is normally used for the first person in American English.

Like will and shallwould is a modal auxiliary. When verbs are conjugated with modal auxiliaries, the results are sometimes referred to as moods rather than tenses.

a. The simple conjugation with the auxiliary Would
The Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would is used to express non-continuous actions.

In spoken English, the auxiliary would is frequently contracted to ‘d. It should be noted that this contraction is the same as that used for had.

In the case of the verb to work, the Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would is as follows:

Without Contractions With Contractions
  I would work   I’d work
  you would work   you’d work
  he would work   he’d work
  she would work   she’d work
  it would work   it’d work
  we would work   we’d work
  they would work   they’d work

The contraction it’d is used less frequently than the other contractions, since it is more difficult to pronounce.

As illustrated below, the word order for questions and negative statements in the Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would is similar to that in other English conjugations. The negative tag questions are underlined.

In spoken English, would not is frequently contracted to wouldn’t.

Simple conjugation with Would
 

Type of Statement Examples
Affirmative Statement: I would work.
They would work.
Question: Would I work?
Would they work?
Negative Statement: I would not work.
They would not work.
Negative Question without Would I not work?
  Contractions: Would they not work?
Negative Question with Wouldn’t I work?
  Contractions: Wouldn’t they work?
Negative Tag Question: I would work, wouldn’t I?
They would work, wouldn’t they?

See Exercises 1 and 2.

The Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would is often used in polite requests and suggestions.
e.g. Would you please pass the butter?
Perhaps it would be best to postpone the meeting.
In the first example, would pass is used in a polite request. In the second example, would be is used in a polite suggestion.

See Exercise 3.

b. The continuous conjugation with the auxiliary Would
The Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is used to express continuous, ongoing actions.

In the case of the verb to work, the Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is as follows:

  I would be working
  you would be working
  he would be working
  she would be working
  it would be working
  we would be working
  they would be working

As illustrated below, the word order for questions and negative statements in the Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is similar to that in other English conjugations. The negative tag questions are underlined.

Continuous conjugation with Would
 

Type of Statement Examples
Affirmative Statement: I would be working.
They would be working.
Question: Would I be working?
Would they be working?
Negative Statement: I would not be working.
They would not be working.
Negative Question without Would I not be working?
  Contractions: Would they not be working?
Negative Question with Wouldn’t I be working?
  Contractions: Wouldn’t they be working?
Negative Tag Question: I would be working, wouldn’t I?
They would be working, wouldn’t they?

See Exercises 4 and 5.

c. The perfect conjugation with the auxiliary Would
In the case of the verb to work, the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would is as follows:

I would have worked
you would have worked
he would have worked
she would have worked
it would have worked
we would have worked
they would have worked

As illustrated below, the word order for questions and negative statements in the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would is similar to that in other English conjugations. The negative tag questions are underlined.

Perfect conjugation with Would
 

Type of Statement Examples
Affirmative Statement: I would have worked.
They would have worked.
Question: Would I have worked?
Would they have worked?
Negative Statement: I would not have worked.
They would not have worked.
Negative Question without Would I not have worked?
  Contractions: Would they not have worked?
Negative Question with Wouldn’t I have worked?
  Contractions: Wouldn’t they have worked?
Negative Tag Question: I would have worked, wouldn’t I?
They would have worked, wouldn’t they?

See Exercises 6 and 7.

Unlike the Perfect conjugations in the English past, present, and future tenses, the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would is not generally used to express an action completed by a certain time.

Instead, the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would may be used as a past form of the Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would. The verbs in the following examples are underlined.

Present Form Past Form
would like that. would have liked that.
We would write to him. We would have written to him.

In the first example, the Perfect conjugation would have liked is used as the past form of the Simple conjugation would like. In the second example, the Perfect conjugation would have written is used as the past form of the Simple conjugation would write.

See Exercises 8 and 9.

d. The perfect continuous conjugation with the auxiliary Would
In the case of the verb to work, the Perfect Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is as follows:

I would have been working
you would have been working
he would have been working
she would have been working
it would have been working
we would have been working
they would have been working

As illustrated below, the word order for questions and negative statements in the Perfect Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is similar to that in other English conjugations. The negative tag questions are underlined.

Perfect continuous conjugation with Would
 

Type of Statement Examples
Affirmative Statement: I would have been working.
They would have been working.
Question: Would I have been working?
Would they have been working?
Negative Statement: I would not have been working.
They would not have been working.
Negative Question without Would I not have been working?
  Contractions: Would they not have been working?
Negative Question with Wouldn’t I have been working?
  Contractions: Wouldn’t they have been working?
Negative Tag Question: I would have been working, wouldn’t I?
They would have been working, wouldn’t they?

See Exercises 10 and 11.

Like the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would, the Perfect Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would is not generally used to express an action completed by a certain time.

Instead, the Perfect Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would may be used as a past form of the Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would. The verbs in the following examples are underlined.

Present Form Past Form
would be waiting outside. would have been waiting outside.
He would be helping you. He would have been helping you.

In the first example, the Perfect Continuous conjugation would have been waiting is used as the past form of the Continuous conjugation would be waiting. In the second example, the Perfect Continuous conjugation would have been helping is used as the past form of the Continuous conjugation would be helping.

See Exercise 12.

3. Summary of the formation of the conjugations with the auxiliary Would

The following table summarizes the formation of the conjugations with the auxiliary would.

Conjugation Auxiliary Verb Form
  Simple   would   bare infinitive
  Continuous   would be   present participle
  Perfect   would have   past participle
  Perfect Continuous   would have been   present participle

 

4. The “future in the past”

The modal auxiliary would is the past form of the modal auxiliary will. For this reason, the auxiliary would can be used to form what is sometimes called a future in the past.

The future in the past is used in reporting statements and questions which pertained to the future at the time they were made. In the following examples, the verbs in the main clauses are printed in bold type, and the verbs in the subordinate clauses are underlined.

Tense of Verb in Main Clause Complete Sentence
  Simple Present   I think you will succeed.
  Simple Past   I thought you would succeed.

In the sentence I think you will succeed, the verb of the main clause, think, is in the Simple Present, and the verb of the subordinate clause, will succeed, is in the Simple Future. If the verb think is changed to the Simple Past, then the verb will succeed must also be put into the past, by using the auxiliary would instead of will.

The following are other examples of the use of the future in the past:

Tense of Verb in Main Clause Complete Sentence
  Simple Present   She says she will visit us next week.
  Simple Past   She said she would visit us the following week.
  Simple Present   They know that we will be arriving tomorrow.
  Simple Past   They knew that we would be arriving the next day.

In both pairs of examples, when the verb in the main clause is changed from the Simple Present to the Simple Past, the verb in the subordinate clause is changed from a future tense to the future in the past, by changing the auxiliary will to would.

It should be noted that adverb and adverb phrases such as tomorrowyesterday and next year can be used only with reference to present time. When used with reference to past or future time, as in reported speech, these adverbs and adverb phrases must be changed.

For instance, tomorrow must be changed to an expression such as the next day or the following day; and next year must be changed to an expression such as the next year or the following year. Other examples are given in the table below.

Used with Reference to Present Time Used with Reference to Past or Future Time
  tomorrow   the next day or the following day
  today   that day or the same day
  yesterday   the day before or the previous day
  next week   the next week or the following week
  this week   that week or the same week
  last week   the week before or the previous week
  next year   the next year or the following year
  this year   that year or the same year
  last year   the year before or the previous year

 

EXERCISES for Chapter 8

1. Rewrite the following affirmative statements as questions, negative statements, negative questions without contractions, negative questions with contractions, and affirmative statements followed by negative tag questions. For example:
He would like to help us.
Would he like to help us?
He would not like to help us.
Would he not like to help us?
Wouldn’t he like to help us?
He would like to help us, wouldn’t he?

1. She would find it easy.
2. They would be on time.

2. Complete the following sentences, using the indicated verbs in the Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would. For example:
I __________ some coffee. (to like)
would like some coffee.

_____ he _______ us? (to believe)
Would he believe us?

They _____ not ____ the interruption. (to mind)
They would not mind the interruption.

_____ you not ______ to stay at home? (to prefer)
Would you not prefer to stay at home?

1. We ____________ our best. (to try)
2. _______ you not __________ your glasses? (to need)
3. I ________________ everything carefully. (to plan)
4. _______ they _____________ us? (to remember)
5. _______ he not ________ willing to help them? (to be)
6. _______ she not ________ a good job? (to do)
7. We _______ not __________ much luggage. (to bring)
8. _______ they _____________ their decision? (to reconsider)
9. You _______________ a great deal. (to learn)
10. _______ he not ____________ the tickets ahead of time? (to purchase)

3. Complete the following polite requests and suggestions, using the indicated verbs in the Simple conjugation with the auxiliary would. For example:
_____ you ____ some help? (to like)
Would you like some help?

_____ you please ____ me the way to the post office? (to tell)
Would you please tell me the way to the post office?

1. _________ you _________ for some coffee? (to care)
2. ________ you not _________ to visit the library? (to prefer)
3. I think it ______________ wise to let them know. (to be)
4. _________ you please __________ here? (to wait)
5. I _________ not _____________ that excursion. (to recommend)
6. _________ you ___________ the door open? (to hold)

4. Rewrite the following affirmative statements as questions, negative statements, negative questions without contractions, negative questions with contractions, and affirmative statements followed by negative tag questions. For example:
She would be arriving by bus.
Would she be arriving by bus?
She would not be arriving by bus.
Would she not be arriving by bus?
Wouldn’t she be arriving by bus?
She would be arriving by bus, wouldn’t she?

1. You would be coming with us.
2. He would be setting an example.

5. Complete the following sentences, using the indicated verbs in the Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would. For example:
I ________________ for good weather. (to wish)
would be wishing for good weather.

_____ you ___________ them? (to visit)
Would you be visiting them?

He _____ not ____________ to come. (to expect)
He would not be expecting to come.

______ they not ____ their car? (to drive)
Would they not be driving their car?

1. I _______ not _____________ overtime. (to work)
2. _______ she not ______________ to stay? (to intend)
3. He _________________ for us to call. (to wait)
4. _______ they ___________ warm clothes? (to wear)
5. You ____________________ twenty dollars on books. (to spend)
6. _______ we _____________ early? (to arrive)
7. _______ I not _____________ the guests? (to receive)
8. They _______ not ____________ him for a long time. (to see)
9. _______ he not _____________ what to do? (to wonder)
10. She _______ not _____________ her bicycle. (to ride)

6. Rewrite the following affirmative statements as questions, negative statements, negative questions without contractions, negative questions with contractions, and affirmative statements followed by negative tag questions. For example:
It would have been a disaster.
Would it have been a disaster?
It would not have been a disaster.
Would it not have been a disaster?
Wouldn’t it have been a disaster?
It would have been a disaster, wouldn’t it?

1. We would have told you.
2. They would have won.

7. Complete the following sentences, using the indicated verbs in the Perfect conjugation with the auxiliary would. For example:
They ________________ this interesting. (to find)
They would have found this interesting.

_____ she __________ without us? (to come)
Would she have come without us?

He _____ not _________ the map. (to lose)
He would not have lost the map.

_____ we not ________ him the news? (to tell)
Would we not have told him the news?

1. I _____________________ everything. (to arrange)
2. She _______ not ______________ to come. (to forget)
3. _______ they not ______________ what to do? (to know)
4. _______ he _______________ this route? (to choose)
5. We _______________________ them make a contribution. (to let)
6. _______ you not _________________ it was missing? (to notice)
7. He ______ not _______________ it to your old address. (to send)
8. ______ you ________________ it? (to mention)
9. I ____________________ able to find you. (to be)
10. _______ they not _______________ us? (to join)

8. Rewrite the following sentences so that they refer to the past, by changing the verbs from the Simple conjugation to the Perfect conjugation. For example:
I would like to come.
I would have liked to come.

Would he appreciate it?
Would he have appreciated it?

They would not mind.
They would not have minded.

Would she not remember us?
Would she not have remembered us?

1. They would mail us their address.
2. Would you recognize him?
3. He would not order pizza.
4. Would I not need your help?
5. She would prefer to play the violin.
6. Would they not provide clear instructions?
7. It would not be a good idea.
8. Would you feel left out?

9. Rewrite the following sentences so that they refer to the present, by changing the verbs from the Perfect conjugation to the Simple conjugation. For example:
It would have been preferable.
It would be preferable.

Would we have succeeded?
Would we succeed?

They would not have understood.
They would not understand.

Would you not have preferred to go?
Would you not prefer to go?

1. Would she have drunk the lemonade?
2. You would not have wanted to be late.
3. We would have begun at once.
4. I would not have stayed up all night.
5. Would he not have eaten the ice cream?
6. Would they have made the dessert?
7. She would have known what to do.
8. Would you not have recommended it?

10. Rewrite the following affirmative statements as questions, negative statements, negative questions without contractions, negative questions with contractions, and affirmative statements followed by negative tag questions. For example:
I would have been playing in the orchestra.
Would I have been playing in the orchestra?
I would not have been playing in the orchestra.
Would I not have been playing in the orchestra?
Wouldn’t I have been playing in the orchestra?
I would have been playing in the orchestra, wouldn’t I?

1. He would have been listening to the radio.
2. She would have been watering the lawn.

11. Complete the following sentences, using the indicated verbs in the Perfect Continuous conjugation with the auxiliary would. For example:
He ____________________ to see us. (to hope)
He would have been hoping to see us.

_____ you __________________ to come? (to plan)
Would you have been planning to come?

We _____ not _________________ rubber boots. (to wear)
We would not have been wearing rubber boots.

_____ she not ___________________ this? (to expect)
Would she not have been expecting this?

1. I _______________________ to catch the bus. (to hurry)
2. _______ you __________________ with us? (to stay)
3. He _______ not ___________________ by train. (to travel)
4. _______ we not ____________________ you here? (to meet)
5. They ______________________ to Halifax. (to come)
6. _______ we __________________ a report? (to make)
7. _______ she not ___________________ the parcels? (to open)
8. We _______ not ___________________ to the radio. (to listen)
9. You _______________________ for a long time. (to wait)
10. _______ they _____________________ the operation? (to run)

12. Put each of the following sentences into the past, by changing the verb from the Continuous conjugation to the Perfect Continuous conjugation. For example:
I would be enjoying it.
I would have been enjoying it.

Would she be preparing for the trip?
Would she have been preparing for the trip?

We would not be entertaining such suspicions.
We would not have been entertaining such suspicions.

Would he not be organizing the evidence?
Would he not have been organizing the evidence?

1. I would be investigating the report.
2. Would he be following the shoreline?
3. You would not be listening to rumors.
4. It would be growing colder.
5. They would not be exceeding the speed limit.
6. Would she not be weeding the garden?
7. Would we be receiving the messages?
8. They would be reporting to us.

13. For each of the following sentences, change the verb in the main clause from the Simple Present to the Simple Past; and change the verb in the subordinate clause from the Simple Future to the future in the past. If necessary, alter the adverb or adverb phrase referring to time. For example:
He thinks it will snow tomorrow.
He thought it would snow the next day.

We believe she will succeed.
We believed she would succeed.

I think she will come next week.
I thought she would come the next week.

1. I promise I will help you.
2. She says the letter will arrive tomorrow.
3. The boys are certain that their plane will fly.
4. We expect the weather will improve.
5. He maintains that he will win next year.
6. We feel that the plan will not work.
7. You know I will return next week.
8. They tell us that the harvest will be good.
9. He hopes the circus will come tomorrow.
10. I am sure they will be welcome.
11. We think the fruit will be ripe next month.
12. They say they will follow us.

ANSWERS TO THE EXERCISES for Chapter 8

Answers to Exercise 1:
1. Would she find it easy? She would not find it easy. Would she not find it easy? Wouldn’t she find it easy? She would find it easy, wouldn’t she?
2. Would they be on time? They would not be on time. Would they not be on time? Wouldn’t they be on time? They would be on time, wouldn’t they?

Answers to Exercise 2:
1. would try 2. Would, need 3. would plan 4. Would, remember 5. Would, be 6. Would, do 7. would, bring 8. Would, reconsider 9. would learn 10. Would, purchase

Answers to Exercise 3:
1. Would, care 2. Would, prefer 3. would be 4. Would, wait 5. would, recommend 6. Would, hold

Answers to Exercise 4:
1. Would you be coming with us? You would not be coming with us. Would you not be coming with us? Wouldn’t you be coming with us? You would be coming with us, wouldn’t you?
2. Would he be setting an example? He would not be setting an example. Would he not be setting an example? Wouldn’t he be setting an example? He would be setting an example, wouldn’t he?

Answers to Exercise 5:
1. would, be working 2. Would, be intending 3. would be waiting 4. Would, be wearing 5. would be spending 6. Would, be arriving 7. Would, be receiving 8. would, be seeing 9. Would, be wondering 10. would, be riding

Answers to Exercise 6:
1. Would we have told you? We would not have told you. Would we not have told you? Wouldn’t we have told you? We would have told you, wouldn’t we?
2. Would they have won? They would not have won. Would they not have won? Wouldn’t they have won? They would have won, wouldn’t they?

Answers to Exercise 7:
1. would have arranged 2. would, have forgotten 3. Would, have known 4. Would, have chosen 5. would have let 6. Would, have noticed 7. would, have sent 8. Would, have mentioned 9. would have been 10. Would, have joined

Answers to Exercise 8:
1. They would have mailed us their address. 2. Would you have recognized him? 3. He would not have ordered pizza. 4. Would I not have needed your help? 5. She would have preferred to play the violin. 6. Would they not have provided clear instructions? 7. It would not have been a good idea. 8. Would you have felt left out?

Answers to Exercise 9:
1. Would she drink the lemonade? 2. You would not want to be late. 3. We would begin at once. 4. I would not stay up all night. 5. Would he not eat the ice cream? 6. Would they make the dessert? 7. She would know what to do. 8. Would you not recommend it?

Answers to Exercise 10:
1. Would he have been listening to the radio? He would not have been listening to the radio. Would he not have been listening to the radio? Wouldn’t he have been listening to the radio? He would have been listening to the radio, wouldn’t he?
2. Would she have been watering the lawn? She would not have been watering the lawn. Would she not have been watering the lawn? Wouldn’t she have been watering the lawn? She would have been watering the lawn, wouldn’t she?

Answers to Exercise 11:
1. would have been hurrying 2. Would, have been staying 3. would, have been traveling 4. Would, have been meeting 5. would have been coming 6. Would, have been making 7. Would, have been opening 8. would, have been listening 9. would have been waiting 10. Would, have been running

Answers to Exercise 12:
1. I would have been investigating the report. 2. Would he have been following the shoreline? 3. You would not have been listening to rumors. 4. It would have been growing colder. 5. They would not have been exceeding the speed limit. 6. Would she not have been weeding the garden? 7. Would we have been receiving the messages? 8. They would have been reporting to us.

Answers to Exercise 13:
1. I promised I would help you. 2. She said the letter would arrive the next day. 3. The boys were certain that their plane would fly. 4. We expected the weather would improve. 5. He maintained that he would win the next year. 6. We felt that the plan would not work. 7. You knew I would return the next week. 8. They told us that the harvest would be good. 9. He hoped the circus would come the next day. 10. I was sure they would be welcome. 11. We thought the fruit would be ripe the next month. 12. They said they would follow us.

If you find any mistake in the questions or need an explanation for the correct answer, please let us know by leaving a comment below. We will immediately correct the mistake or try to explain the answer as much as possible.
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