Would You Please...

Expressing Wish and Desire

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Would You Please...


Today we're going to discuss one way to express wish or desire by using the modal would

Many times people email me, writing, " I will like to purchase this" when they really should be saying "I would like to purchase this".  We are going to talk about the correct use of the modal would in this situation.


A modal is a helping verb.  Using a modal before a verb changes the meaning of that verb in some way.


Use the modal will when you are:

  • referring to the future and

  • you are indicating 100% CERTAINTY.

Time Reference Positive Negative
FUTURE: will will not, won't
Future Positive: The marriage will work out.
Future Negative: The marriage will not work out.
(The marriage won't work out.)
PAST:  would have + past participle form of the verb would not have + past participle form of the verb
Past* Positive: Their marriage would have worked* out.
Past Negative: Their marriage would not have worked** out.
(Their marriage wouldn't have worked out.)



The modal would  is very common, and carries several different meanings. In this example, we use would  because it is a polite request, and we use the would  with polite requests:

Would you please help me?


Now let's say you are ready to pop the question, that is, you are going to ask somebody to marry you. Do you say to the object of your desire, "I will like to marry you" or do you say, "I would like to marry you"?

Write your response you think is correct in the box below.

The winning marriage proposal would be, "I would like to marry you."

Perhaps you are more romantic and you get down on one knee: do you ask, " Will you marry me?" or do you ask, "Would you marry me?"

Both statements could get you hitched, depending on how you want to sound. However, we think "Will you marry me?" sounds more certain on the requester's part.  Remember that will indicates 100% certainty and would indicates polite request. The next time you want to propose marriage, try them both and let us know which one works for you!

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Music Copyright, permission of Luca De Bernardi; Photo of Headphones Copyright Karl-Erik Bennion