How to use WOULD (part 1), plus British Isles, Great Britain or UK? | DailyStep English

How to use WOULD (part 1), plus British Isles, Great Britain or UK?

This is Jane Lawson's Audio Blog #023 at DailyStep English

Jane Lawson English Teacher at DailyStep EnglishHello, I’m Jane at DailyStep English and welcome to my audio blog!

The first thing I want to say this week is a message to all my Japanese members. I am so horrified to see what has happened in Japan in the last week with the earthquake and tsunami, and my thoughts are with you and your country. The whole world is watching and wishing you strength and courage in the face of this appalling disaster.

My article in this blog is about the British Isles – many of my students get confused about the different names that are used for this part of the world, so I hope this blog will make it clearer for you.

Our audio word study is how to use the modal verb WOULD (part 1). This subject is covered over several weeks, as it’s a big topic! 

So, let’s start off with a look at the British Isles, and how this area relates to Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

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The British Isles
by Jane Lawson at 



There are many ways of referring to the part of Europe where I live. You could say that I live in the United Kingdom, or in the British Isles or in Great Britain. But what are the British Isles? And what is the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom?


The British Isles is a group of islands off the north coast of the main European continent. You can see the main islands of the British Isles in the left hand picture. The two largest islands are called Great Britain and Ireland, and there are also about six thousand smaller islands as well. The largest island, Great Britain, contains three countries – England, Scotland and Wales.These 3 countries have separate parliaments, although they are still a part of the same state, the United Kingdom. The UK actually consists of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Scotland used to be a totally separate country from England, but in 1707 they were united as one country. You can learn more about this in my blog about the Story of the Union Jack. Since 1997, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had their own parliaments with law-making powers for many areas, but not for taxation.


The second largest island in the British Isles is called Ireland. Its name in Gaelic, the native language of Ireland, is Eire. This is where the name Ireland comes from. Ireland is divided into 2 countries. The Republic of Ireland, in the south, is now completely separate from the United Kingdom, but a small area in the North of Ireland is still a part of the UK. That is why the full title of the UK is ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.’


Many of the countries in the British Isles have their own languages, completely unrelated to English. In many cases, this language is spoken by only a small number of people, but in Wales, the Welsh language is thriving. In parts of North Wales, Welsh is still the first language, and English is learned as a foreign language! Some of the islands in the British Isles, such as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, have their own laws, taxation and government. They also have their own flags and are politically separate from the UK and the Republic of Ireland.


So, now that we have learned about the British Isles, let’s move on to our audio word study, where we will start to learn the meanings of WOULD in English.

Here is Audio Word Study #023 from Jane Lawson at

WOULD (part 1)

In English grammar, ‘would’ is a modal verb, or modal. Modals give a special meaning to a verb, and they are always followed by the bare infinitive form of the verb, in other words, the infinitive without ‘to’. So, for example, it is wrong to say ‘I would to like a cup of coffee’, and it is correct to say ‘I would like a cup of coffee.’ I’ll tell you more about infinitives in a future audio blog. There are many ways to use WOULD, so in this blog we will look at the first 4 uses.

Meaning 1: We use ‘would’ as a more polite form of 'will' in requests and offers.
Examples: Would you mind closing the window?
Would you like some help?
Would you like me to carry your bags
Would your daughter like a drink of water?

Meaning 2: We use both 'would' and 'should' in the same way for giving advice
Examples: I wouldn't be concerned about it, if I were you.
(note: here, we can also say ‘I shouldn’t be concerned about it if I were you,’ and it means ‘I advise you not to be concerned about it.’
If I were him, I’d be more careful when riding my bicycle in traffic!

Meaning 3:'Would rather' or 'would sooner' are used to show that you prefer to have or do one thing more than another.
Examples: I'd rather have a coffee than a tea, thanks.
Which would you sooner do - play football or go for a walk?
Wouldn't you rather finish it this morning?

Meaning 4: Would is used with ‘if’ in conditional sentences that refer to an unreal, theoretical situation in the present, past or future.
Examples: “What would you do if you were very rich?”  “If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.” (note: in this example, the person is not rich now.)
If I had been there earlier, I would have seen you before you left. (note: the reality here is that I was not there earlier and so I did not see you before I left.)

That’s all for today’s word study! I will teach other uses of WOULD in a future audio blog!

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Well, that is it for today! I’ll be in touch again soon. Thank you for your many requests about subjects you would like me to cover in my blogs. I will cover as many of them as I can!


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