‘d = “had” or “would”

The contraction I’d can mean “I would” or “I had”.

Here are some similar examples:

You’d = you would or you had
He’d = he would or he had
She’d = she would or she had
It’d = it would or it had
We’d = we would or we had
They’d = they would or they had

We can often tell if I’d means “I would” or “I had” simply by looking at the context of the sentence. However, if we’re not sure, we must look at the grammatical form which follows the contraction ‘d.

Take a look at this table for an explanation with examples:

'd = "had" or "would"
The contraction 'd can mean would or had.

To tell the difference we need to look at what follows 'd:
Would is followed by the bare infinitive (infinitive without to).
would be, would go, etc.
I'd like some tea. ('d = would)
He'd go if he had some money. ('d = would)
It'd be a good idea. ('d = would)
Would can also be followed by the perfect infinitive (have + past participle).
would have been, would have gone, etc.
I'd have gone if I had had time. ('d = would)
He'd have been 70 today. ('d = would)
Had is followed by a past participle
had gone, had had, had been, had spoken, etc..
He'd gone home. ('d = had)
He'd been married a year. ('d = had)
She'd just spoken to her. ('d = had)
I wish I'd waited longer. ('d = had)
I'd better do something
('d = had)
(used for giving advice or warnings)
You'd better be careful – it might be dangerous. ('d = had)
We'd better ask someone else because I'm not sure. ('d = had)
I'd rather
('d = would)
I'd rather live in Paris than in Rome. ('d = would)
I'm tired so I'd rather not go out. ('d = would)

Practise this grammar

I‘d = ‘had’ or ‘would’ (intermediate grammar exercise)

See also

Short forms (contractions): I’m, he’s, she’s, don’t …


  1. Does I'd mean 'I had' or 'I would'? - March 18, 2013, 8:18 am Reply

    […] For more examples sentences and a full explanation of the rule see:  grammar explanation of ‘d = ‘had’ or ‘would’. […]

  2. Sandro - May 19, 2017, 8:49 am Reply

    Does ‘d in an if sentence mean “had” or “would”? (I think it should be “had”, am I correct?)

    • Ashley M - May 19, 2017, 8:36 pm Reply

      If I had the money, I’d (I would) go to the movies.
      As far as I can come up with, in “if” statements, you use “would”.
      I can’t think of an “if” statement using the “had” version.

      • Anonymous - October 3, 2017, 5:43 pm Reply

        Using an extension to one of the examples above, “If you’re going to the woods at night, you’d better be careful,” would be “had” in an “if” scenario.

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