Would vs Would have

I recently recieved the following question:

When do we use would have and would?

This requires a long answer, but I will give you a simple explanation, later when you understand this explanation, I will give you more information.

Would – Is used in the present tense to make the sentence a little more polite (softer). I could say “I suggest” but I said, “I would suggest“ to make it a little more polite. It is also used in conditional statements.

I would have suggested that sooner but we had other issues to deal with.

Would have ( should have, or could have) – Is in the past simple tense. It usually describes something that is conditional. (You didn’t do something in the past because something else was happening then).


I would have gone to the store yesterday, if it wasn’t raining. (meaning – I didn’t go and the reason that I didn’t go was because it was raining.)

I would have gone to the store yesterday, but it was raining. (both sentences mean the same thing.)

Consider the next two sentences:

  1. I wanted to visit you.
  2. I don’t have enough money for plane fare.

I would have visited you if I had enough money for plane fare. (past tense conditional statement)

Think about two related ideas (like the two above) and create a few  past tense conditional statements.

When you feel comfortable with those, let me know and I will give you a little more information.

Before I leave you I would like to make certain that you understand the difference between, would, could and should.

Would – To make polite offers, or to talk about situations that are impossible or unlikely. Would you please pass me the salt? I would change that law if I were the president. 

Should – Describes an action that will benefit you. You should go to the Doctor, if you are feeling sick.

Could – (past tense of “can”) – Describes the ability to do something. I could means that I am able to. When I was a teenager, I could exercise all day, but now that I am much older, I can’t.