Would In Past Tense: 7 Facts You Should Know


The word ‘would’ is one of the modal auxiliary verbs in English language. Let us explore how ‘would’ is used in past tense.

‘Would’ is a modal auxiliary verb that is used along with the main verb in a sentence. ‘Would’ is the past tense of the modal verb ‘will’ and can be utilized to show or denote preferences, wishes, desires, opinions, possibilities, imaginary situations and so on.

We shall explore about the modal verb ‘would’ in past tense with the aid of 7 facts you should know.

Can the auxiliary verb “would” be used in past tense?

We shall here find out whether the auxiliary verb ‘would’ can be used in past tense.

The auxiliary verb ‘would’ can definitely be used in the past tense and so the answer to the above question is an obvious yes.

Example:

Ramesh would have been the topper of his class if he had not got hurt in his leg before his last test.

In this sentence, the modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used in the past tense as Ramesh getting hurt in his leg was in the past and he could not top his tests which were also conducted sometime in the past.

How the auxiliary verb “would” is used in past tense?

As we know the auxiliary verb ‘would’ is nothing but the past tense of the auxiliary verb ‘will’, we will also get to know how ‘would’ is used in past.

The modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used in the past tense by placing it right before the main verb of the sentence. ‘Would’ is used in its actual form without any morphological or phonetic changes. It is used by placing a conditional clause before or after the clause in which it appears.

Example:

I would have caught the kite, if I had climbed to the terrace.

Here, the subject ‘I’ talks about an incident that has happened in the past in which he / she did not catch the kite. This was because he had not climbed to the terrace before he thought of catching the kite.

When the auxiliary verb “would” is used in past tense?

There are particular situations where the word ‘would’ is used in the past tense. We will here discuss about when ‘would’ is used in past tense.

The modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used when we describe a possible action that would have occurred or been done in the event of another action happening, prior to the former one.

Example:

If not for the advice from Dinesh, Raj would have sold the property at a lower price.

In the above sentence, Raj selling the property is an event in the past and the time of advice of Dinesh is also in the past. This sentence is used to describe a possible action that would have occurred (of Raj selling the property at a lower price) in the event of another action happening (if Dinesh had not advised Raj).

Why the auxiliary verb “would” is used in past tense?

There must definitely be a reason why the auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used in the past tense. Let us now see that reason.

The auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used in the past tense as it is the best and structurally accurate way to indicate the possibility of an event that would have happened if another event had /had not happened prior to it.

Example:

They would have gone for a picnic if it had not rained.

Here, in the above sentence, using the auxiliary ‘would’ to denote the action of going to a picnic is the best way to indicate the possible event if another event (of raining) had not happened.

Formula and structure of would used in past tense

We will get to know the particular way (format, formula or structure) in which the auxiliary verb ‘would’ must be used to denote the past tense.

A conditional + subject noun / pronoun + (had + verb + past participle) + (subject noun / pronoun) WOULD + (have + verb + past participle) + object noun / pronoun

Example:

If Nithya had studied science, she would have been a scientist.

Here, the structure of the sentence is If (conditional) + Nithya (Subject noun) + had studied (had + past participle of study) + she (Subject pronoun) + WOULD (to denote past tense) + have been (have + past participle of be) + a scientist (Object noun).

Examples of would used in past tense

Here we shall see few example sentences where the auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used in past tense and their related explanations.

The examples and explanations of the auxiliary verb ‘would’ used in past tense are,

ExamplesExplanations
1. If not for the new law, Deep would not have lost his business.From this sentence, we come to know that Deep had his business before the new law was passed. Both Deep’s business and the passing of the law are actions which are completed in the past.
2. You would have finished the test in time if you had not dozed off.The use of the auxiliary verb ‘would’ here denotes that the actions of both not completing the test and sleeping during the test were performed by the subject ‘you’ sometime in the past.
3. If he had missed his plane, Pichai would not have been in Google now.
The modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ is used here because the event of Pichai catching the flight has led him to join Google eventually both actions were done in the past.
4. My friend, Sujith, would have played for India, if he had not injured himself.The auxiliary verb ‘would’ used here indicates that the time Sujith injured himself and the time when he would have joined the Indian team were in the past.
5. If the traveler had possessed a map, he would not have lost his way into the jungle.The use of the auxiliary verb ‘would’ here shows us that the actions of the traveler not having a map and he getting lost into the jungle happened sometime in the past.
6. If people did not have good and profitable ideas, startups would not have come up.The modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ is utilized here to indicate the presence of good and profitable ideas and the coming up of startups which are both events of the past.
7. Gandhi would not have been Mahatma, if he had not been thrown out of the train.The usage of modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ here shows that event of Gandhi being termed as Mahatma and the event of Gandhi being thrown out of the train has both occurred in the past.
8. The library would have been constructed by now, if not for the lack of funds.The presence of the modal auxiliary verb ‘would’ in this sentence is to denote the cease in the construction of the library and also the presence of funds both of which are occurrences of the past.
‘Would’ In Past Tense Examples

Conclusion

Thus from the above article we have come to know that the auxiliary verb ‘would’ can be used in the past to denote the probability of an event happening as the outcome of another event, both of which are in the past.

Sowndharya Jagadeeswaran

Hi... I am Sowndharya Jagadeeswaran, a university rank holder in M.A. English Literature. I have also done my master's in Business Administration. Inquisitive as I am, my interest in action-oriented research helped me publish research papers in reputed journals. Now, as a career, I am an instructor where I teach young and adorable students the intricate technicalities of Public Speaking and Creative Writing. I also enjoy writing articles on topics I specialize and research in. You can connect with me through LinkedIn.-https://www.linkedin.com/in/sowndharya-j-972378233

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