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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > I will (would) do it if you ask(ed) me to.    

I will (would) do it if you ask(ed) me to.


I will (would) do it if you ask(ed) me to.
Expressing facts about the past / an unreal situation in the present.
I worked on this with some students and then gave them some homework.
One example sentence pair was this (a fact about the past):
The door will not open. I have to use another door.
The door would not open. I had to use another door.
One student �s sentence pair was this:
I want to see the movie, but the movie will not come yet.
I wanted to see the movie, but the movie would not come yet.
I can see two problems that I would like to explain to the student.
1. We do not say "...the movie will not come yet". So we cannot use this example to make a [will/would] sentence pair. That is not difficult to explain. I will not ask about that.
2. I am having trouble explaining when we can / cannot use [will] and [would].
First, in order to figure out the rule, I imagined that the student �s sentence was not unnatural, rather that it was just incorrect.
A movie is inanimate, as is a door.
However, I can make the sentence about the door as above, so it �s not that.
Is it something to do with using [will] and [would] as auxiliary verbs?
Is it something to do with the agent of the verb?
Even if I re-word it, I cannot see the rule I am looking for
"I want to see the movie, but it will not be shown until next week".
"I wanted to see the movie, but it would not be shown until the following week"
I know that I should be able to explain this simply and quickly, but I just can �t. Am I looking at a simple problem with my "complex problems" eyeglasses?

Please point me in the right direction. Thank you very much.

16 Jul 2015      

United States

Hi, Matthew,

I really don �t quite understand your dilemma, so what I say might be totally useless, but that won �t stop me.

It seems to me that all you have to do is give the lesson on when we use "will" for the future. As a native speaker, I don �t have the various future forms and their uses at my fingertips, because we just naturally use the appropriate form, so if you need any help with that, there are lots of people here who can help you.

16 Jul 2015     


Thanks for replying, Bruce.

I was not looking at [will] for the future.

I should also have mentioned that I was originally contrasting the use of these two points with my students:

(1) Talking about a factual situation that occurred in the past. (will vs would)

The door will not open. I have to use another door. (now)

The door would not open. I had to use another door. (past)

(2) Talking about an event in the present. (will vs would)

If the boy goes to school, he will learn. (first conditional)

If the boy went to school, he would learn. (second conditional)

Sorry, I did not make that clear before.

If I were to simply do the lesson on [will] for the future, I would not answer the student �s question about why she cannot make the following sentences:

I want to see the movie, but the movie will not come yet.

I wanted to see the movie, but the movie would not come yet.

Perhaps I have confused myself, mistaking her unnatural use of English (the movie will not come yet) for a grammatical error (her use of would).

In any case, I feel that there is a rule/idea here that I should be explaining, but that I cannot bring to mind. I have become so cluttered / flustered in my mind now, that I cannot see what I should be doing.

I know it is a simple problem, and I understand what the grammar is, but for some reason I have a brain-freeze on when the rule applies and when it does not.

Thanks for replying.

I will need to give this some thought.

16 Jul 2015     

Mariethe House

Hi Matthew!
Just my two cents: The whole phrase sounds really weird ;
1: the use of will : it is not a future idea , nor is it a case of door that won �t open! the cinema has no will , just the people who show the film! 
2. come is not appropriate either: he should use: show or play .
3. Instead of cinema, I would use: film
So, as a result of my deep reflexion :o=) , I �d say: the film is not playing at the moment  / the film wasn �t playing at the time.
Or: They are not playing the film at the moment : or maybe : they won �t be playing the film until.... ( here with a future idea)
Hope it helps and just get it off your mind!! Enjoy the day!!WinkHug

16 Jul 2015     

United Kingdom

Hi Matthew, it �s just factual, so the natural utterance would be �I want to see the movie, but it hasn�t been released yet �
�I wanted to see the movie, but it hadn�t been released (by then/at that point.) Or Mariethe�s version. 
I think....!!!

17 Jul 2015     

United States

Matthew, I think you have answered your own question. If her sentence had been correct, then her use of "would" would have been correct, also. I now think the only reason you are concerned is that you really don �t have a problem beyond that sentence, so just carry on and you will be fine.


17 Jul 2015