Would vs. Would Have

Many cannot distinguish the difference between 'would' and 'would have.' In this lesson, we will learn their difference and uses.

"Would" vs. "Would Have" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'would' and 'would have' is that 'would' is used to express a habitual action or a future possibility, while 'would have' is used to express a hypothetical or unrealized action in the past.


'Would' is a modal verb (also known as modals). It is the past tense of 'will' and is is used to talk about willingness, habits, offers, and requests. 'Would' is also often used to express a future possibility or hypothetical situation. Take a look at the following examples:

He would always be there for her.

He would often stay up late to finish his work.

With Conditionals

'Would' can also be used with type two conditionals which express hypothetical or unlikely situations in the present or future. In type two conditional sentences, the condition is expressed in the past tense, and the result is expressed using 'would' plus the base form of the verb. For example:

If I had more money, I would buy a new car.

If I were taller, I would be able to reach the top shelf.

Would Have

'Would have' is used in the third type of conditionals to express a hypothetical or unrealized action in the past or to express regret or disappointment about a past event. The structure of such sentences is as follows:

Check out the following examples:

If I had known you were sick, I would have visited you in the hospital.

If she had his number, none of this would have happened.

'Would have' can also be used to express a desire that was not fulfilled in the past. For example:

I would have liked to attend the conference, but I had other commitments.

I would have preferred to take the earlier flight, but it was fully booked.


We can make negative sentences with both 'would' and 'would have.' To do so, we simply add 'not' to 'would', as illustrated below:

  • WouldWould notWouldn't
  • Would haveWould not haveWouldn't have

Take a look at these examples to see how negation works in sentences:

If I win the lottery, I would buy a house. → If I win the lottery, I wouldn't buy a house. I would travel the world instead.

He would have been here, if he had left on time. → He wouldn't have been here, if he hadn't left on time.


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