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How to use Would, Should and Could?
Date 06-12-2013 | Views  2030

How to use Would, Should and Could?

by Vivek Singh | Sept 16, 2013

Many times students are confused about when to use would, should or could. These three are auxiliary verbs. Also, these are past tense forms of will, shall, and can respectively. In this article, we would discuss about all these three and identify differences among these.


In general, would, the past tense of will can be used as in following ways:

Asking questions:

Would can uses to ask questions. Below are some of the examples showing how we can use would in question:
Would you like to have a cup of tea? This means do you like to have a cup of tea? Would you please get an English newspaper? Please get an English new paper. Would you leave the room now? Please leave the room now.

Instead of will:

Would can be used in the sentences containing with, what, when, where. Following examples shows the same:
How would the society react? How will the society react?
What would be the result of this match? What will be the result of this match?
How would I go to school? How will I go to school?
In above three sentences, would is used instead of will. If you replace would by will, you will get the same meaning.

Making requests:
Would can be used for making requests, such as:
I would like to have tea now. I want tea now.
Ramesh would like to leave the hall now. Ramesh wants to leave the hall now.
Sarita would like to have more rice. Sarita wants more rice.

To show intention:
Would can be used to show intention. It can also be used to show a plan, like: Suman said she would not come to school tomorrow. Suman is planning to not to come to school tomorrow.

While showing the choice:
Would can be used to show the choices. The following example would make clear:
We would take highway NH7 if I could. This means my choice is to take highway NH7, but I do not have the ability to do so.

To express doubt:
Would can be used to express doubt about something. For an example:
I carefully reviewed all options and this option would be correct. The option probably correct, not sure.

To show a usual habit:
Pinky would cry if you take her ball. Pikny usually cries if anyone takes her ball. It indicates Pinky's habit.

As said earlier, should is and auxiliary verb and past tense of shall.
What is auxiliary verb? Auxiliary verb is a verb used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. There are not many auxiliary verb in Standard English. Most commonly used auxiliary verb arebe (am, are, is, was, being), can, could, do (did, does, doing), have, may, might, must, should etc.
Let's come back again on should. Should can be used in various ways. Some of them are discussed below:

To show obligation:

You should get up early in the morning. Replace should with supposed to, you will get same meaning.

Asking questions:

Should I erase the black board? Am I supposed to erase the black board?
Should I leave now? Am I supposed to leave now?

Showing possible event:
If you should leave the apartment in 12 months, your caution money will not be returned. In the modern use of should. If or I you could be left out leaving the same meaning:
If you leave the apartment in 12 months, your caution money will not be returned or Should you leave the apartment in 12 months, your caution money will not be returned.

To express request:
I should like to take rickshaw. I want to take rickshaw.

As said earlier, can is also an auxiliary verb and past tense of can. Below are the main cases when we can use could:

To ask questions: Could you please give me a cup of tea: Please give me a cup of tea.

Could you please shut the door? Please shut the door.

As past tense of can:
When I was young, I could drink 2 liters of milk. When I was young, I had ability to drink 2 liters of milk.

To show possibility:
The director could be wrong too. The director may be wrong.
You could do better than you do. You have possibility to do better than what you do.

I hope now you understand the differences among would, should and could and how to use them in sentences.

About the author:
Vivek Singh is the founder and owner of BharatTutors. Founded in 2010, BharatTutors.com is one of the fastest growing online platform to connect students and tutors in India.

Author's BharatTutors profile link:http://www.bharattutors.com/index.php?dll=profile&item_id=0

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