Learner's definition of WOULD
1 — used to indicate what someone said or thought about what was going to happen or be done
She said she would be leaving soon. [=she said, “I will be leaving soon”]
She said (that) she would help me with my project.
He thought (that) the drive would take about two hours.
I had no idea where the path would lead me.
They knew (that) I would enjoy the trip.
I never thought that she would lie to me.
2 — used to talk about a possible situation that has not happened or that you are imagining
You would look good in a tuxedo.
If I could leave work early, I would.
It would be a shame to miss the party.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
You would be stupid to quit your job. = It would be stupid (of you) to quit your job. [=if you quit your job, you will be doing something stupid]
Things would be different if I still had that job.
If you lived closer, I would see you every day.
If they were coming, they would be here by now.
3 — used with have to talk about something that did not happen or was not done
She would have won the race if she hadn't tripped.
I would have stopped by your house had I known you were home.
If you had told me that you were coming, I would have picked you up at the airport.
4 — used to say what you think someone should do or to ask for someone's opinion about what to do
If I were you, I would go to the hospital. [=I think that you should go to the hospital]
I would take the train instead of driving into the city.
I would turn back if I were you.
What would you do in my situation?
5 — used to say that you want to do or have something
We would like to help [=we want to help] in any way we can.
I'd like to help, but I'm too busy.
She would like to attend college, but she can't afford it right now.
I would rather have ice cream than cheesecake. = (more commonly) I'd rather have ice cream than cheesecake.
I'd rather not go out this evening. [=I don't want to go out this evening]
I would sooner die than be enslaved.
I'd sooner starve than eat that disgusting food.
6 — used to ask a polite question or to make a polite request, offer, invitation, etc.
Would you please help us?
Would you care for some tea?
She asked if I would have dinner with her.
Would you mind making a little less noise? = Please make a little less noise, would you?
Would you come this way, please? [=please come this way]
Would it be all right if we left a little early?
I would like to see the wine list.
Would you like to join me for dinner?
Would anyone like more coffee?
7 a — used to say that you are willing to do something b — used in negative statements to say that someone was not willing to do something 8 — used to express a wish 9 — used to express your opinion 10 — used to talk about something that always or often happened in the past
When my friend still lived here, we would eat lunch together every day.
She would always take the nine o'clock bus. = She'd always take the nine o'clock bus.
11 — used with so (that) to explain why something was done 12 — used to say what you think is probably true
I would say that he looks to be around sixty. [=he looks like he might be sixty years old, but I'm not sure]
I would think/hope that he was telling the truth, but I really don't know.
“How long will it take?” “I would imagine it will take about an hour.”
13 — used to say that something is possible or likely 14 — used to express your displeasure with behavior that you think is typical of someone 15 old-fashioned + literary — used to say that you wish something was true, had happened, etc. — usually + that
how would I/we know
— used to say that you do not know the answer to a question and are surprised that you were asked it