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Dear members,

Could you please tell me if we could replace WOULD by WILL in the following sentence:

If it would make you feel more comfortable, you may choose to send a card during the holidays, or a ¨Thinking of You¨ card instead of a letter.

I think the modal WILL is also OK in such a context. Is WOULD more polite than WILL? And does WOULD have the meaning in the following sentence:

Amazingly enough, he seems almost willing to give up the helm if it would help.

But it seems to me that WOULD in this sentence does not imply politeness. What's the difference between WILL and WOULD in the second sentence?
Could you please help me to understand the usages of these two modals in the two sentences?
Thank you very much!
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In your first example, I think both are common and equally polite, acceptable and correct. Also, both could be delivered in a slightly sarcastic tone, especially if you substitute "feel better" for "feel more comfortable." (The tone is important.)

I think your second example is a tense problem. He seems . . . if it will/would - He seemed . . . if it would/would have I agree there's no politeness involved here. You're describing a situation. In the first example, you're addressing someone.

- A.

Edit. In "He seems . . . if it will/would" I'm not up to the task of explaining "will" vs "would" at the moment. Sorry.
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wingedfish Could you please tell me if we could replace WOULD by WILL in the following sentence:

If it would make you feel more comfortable ...
You can make that replacement. Yes. There's very little difference in this context. will shows that the speaker feels more confident that the listener will really feel more comfortable. Perhaps they've been discussing the situation. would shows that the speaker feels less confident or simply doesn't know how the listener is going to react. In short will shows more certainty; would, less. will indicates a real possibility; would indicates a hypothetical situation. would shows more politeness insofar as it indicates less certainty. To show more certainty (with will) is, perhaps, to be more presumptuous -- less polite.
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wingedfish it seems to me that WOULD in this sentence does not imply politeness.
Not surprising. It's a third person statement. Note that your other example shows someone speaking directly to another (you). The difference is the same as above. will indicates certainty, a real possibility (that giving up the helm will help). would indicates uncertainty or unreality, only a hypothetical possibility (that giving up the helm would help).
CJ
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AvangiI think your second example is a tense problem.
It's fine. It's just a mixed conditional. It is stating with certainty that he will submit to the conditional clause if the "if" clause is fulfilled. In the "if" clause though "would" is used to show a lower possibility or lack of belief that the clause will be fulfilled.
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thank you all. I understand the difference now. But I am wondering whether the simple present tense in the IF-clause shows more certainty than WILL. For example:

I'll resign if it helps the republicans.

Do you think that the three forms are all acceptable?

I'll resign if it helps the republicans.
I'll resign if it will help the republicans.
I'll resign if it would help the republicans.

The only difference lies in the degree of certainty?
wingedfishDo you think that the three forms are all acceptable?
No, not the last one. You need to change it.

I'll resign if it helps the Republicans. Show me that it helps (now) (in a general sort of way), and I'll do it.

I'll resign if it will help the Republicans. Show me that it will help in the future, and I'll do it.
I'll resign if it would help the Republicans. ??? Conflict between future and conditional.
I'd resign if it would help the Republicans. If you showed me that it would help if I were to do it, I would do it.
You're basically saying: Supposing (as an exercise of the imagination) it would help them, ... So you want to match that with I would (as an exercise of the imagination) do it -- not I will (definitely, I promise) do it. Presenting an imagined situation for consideration doesn't lead to a definite plan of action (will), but to an imagined plan of action (would). You normally stay completely in reality or completely in the world of envisioned situations; you don't mix the two.
wingedfishThe only difference lies in the degree of certainty?
Not really, as discussed above. Factors like time and the difference between 'real' and 'imagined' enter into it. There is no single factor that uniformly explains all differences between will and would.
CJ