Would is the past tense of will in indirect speech.
- Direct speech: John said, ‘I will wait until you return.’
- Indirect speech: John said that he would wait until I return.
- Direct speech: The boy said, ‘I will not eat this cake.’
- Indirect speech: The boy said that he would not eat that cake.
Willingness and determination
Would expresses ideas such as willingness or determination.
- He said that he would help me.
- She said that she would wait for me.
- I would have my own way. (= I am determined to have my own way.)
Habitual action in the past
Would can be used to talk about a habitual or customary action in the past.
- After dinner we would all sit in the hall and chat for a while.
Would and would like to
Would is often used to express a wish. In this case it means the same as would like to.
- I would know what I am supposed to do.
- I would like to know what I am supposed to do.
Would is used to ask polite questions.
- Would you like a cup of coffee? (More polite than ‘Will you like a cup of coffee?’)
- Would you mind lending me your bicycle?
- Would you, please, call me a taxi?
Would is also used in the main clause when preceded or followed by a subordinate clause expressing an impossible or improbable condition.
- If I could fly like a bird, I would be with you now.
- If I were the President, I would lower taxes.