Would Have vs Will Have

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Among the challenges that English language learners face, the difference between will have and would have stands out as a big issue. These two phrases are pivotal for expressing future or conditional outcomes. Some learners even use will have vs would have interchangeably, which is a mistake. In this article, you will learn the “will have” and “would have” meanings, discover the rules, and find some examples of their usage.

Will have in the English Language

"Will have" is used to talk about events that will happen before a specific time in the future. It's a part of the future perfect tense, which combines "will" (the future tense of "to be") with "have" (the past participle form). How to use this structure?

  1. Affirmative sentences. In this case, rules are very straightforward and don’t have any special nuances compared to general rules of sentence building in English. You should follow the structure “subject+will have+past participle of the verb.” Here are some examples:
    1. By next year, they will have built the new bridge.
    2. Very soon, you will have a better understanding of English grammar.
  2. Negative sentences. The only difference here is that you have to add “not” between “will” and “have,” so the structure looks like “subject+will not have+past participle of the verb.” Such structure helps to emphasize that something isn’t going to happen in the future.
    1. By the time you arrive, we will not have started dinner.
    2. She will not have arrived by 8 PM.
  3. Interrogative sentences. In such types of sentences, you should place the word “will” in the first place. The structure is as follows: “will+subject+have+past participle of the verb.” This form is used to inquire whether an action will be completed before a certain future moment.
    1. Will you have finished the report by tomorrow?
    2. Will you have it completed by the end of the month?

"Will have" is particularly useful for indicating not just that an action will occur but that it will be completed by a specific future moment. This allows for precise communication about deadlines and future plans. Often used with time expressions such as "by tomorrow," "by next year," or "by the time," the phrase "will have" provides a clear context that specifies when the action will be completed.

Difference Between 'Would Have' and 'Will Have' in English'

Would Have in the English Language

"Would have" is used to talk about actions or events that could have happened in the past but did not. It indicates a condition that wasn't met and its hypothetical result. How to use it correctly? 

  1. Affirmative sentences. The structure follows the pattern “subject+would have+past participle of the verb.” This format is used to hypothesize about an action that could have happened under different circumstances.
    1. I would have gone to the beach if it had not rained.
  2. Negative sentences. In negative sentences, "not" is added between "would" and "have," forming “subject+would not have+past participle of the verb.” This structure negates the hypothetical completion of the action.
    1. She would not have missed her flight if she had left earlier.
  3. Interrogative Sentences. To ask questions regarding hypothetical past outcomes, the structure is "Would+subject+have+past participle of the verb.”
    1. Would you have taken the job if they had offered it to you?

The “if clause” in affirmative and negative sentences may be placed both at the beginning and at the end of the sentence. Here are some examples:

  • If the weather had been better, we would have gone hiking.
  • I would have visited you more often if I had known you were lonely.

It’s not a grammatical mistake to place the “if clause” at the beginning of the sentence. However, it looks a bit strange and might confuse others. So, follow the general structure, forming the questions with “would have.”

“Would have” plays an important role in expressing regret or reflecting on missed opportunities or unfulfilled potential actions in the past. For example, “I would have visited you more often if I had known you were lonely.” 

It also serves to speculate about what could have happened under different past conditions, often in the context of discussing outcomes that were possible but did not occur. For example, “If the weather had been better, we would have gone hiking."

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Conclusion

"Will have" and "would have" serve as tools that allow us to convey various states, from certainties in the future to reflections on the hypothetical pasts that never unfolded. Mastering their usage is akin to developing language skills.

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