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Thread: Use of 'would'

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    #1

    Use of 'would'

    In the following cloze test I had a problem:
    .... Robert wanted to marry her but her father .............. not allow him to do so, probably because he thought Burns was not wealthy enough......

    My students wrote 'DID' and I corrected this to 'WOULD' but unfortunately I wasn't able to explain why!!

    I considered the use of would as (a) an obstinate resistance to an action
    or (b) past routine because the father reacted this way to all the men who wanted to marry his daughter.
    Any suggestions?
    THanks

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    #2

    Re: Use of 'would'

    Hi!
    Is 'did not' totally out of the question here?

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Use of 'would'

    Quote Originally Posted by smusca View Post
    In the following cloze test I had a problem:
    .... Robert wanted to marry her but her father .............. not allow him to do so, probably because he thought Burns was not wealthy enough......

    My students wrote 'DID' and I corrected this to 'WOULD' but unfortunately I wasn't able to explain why!!

    I considered the use of would as (a) an obstinate resistance to an action
    or (b) past routine because the father reacted this way to all the men who wanted to marry his daughter.
    Any suggestions?
    THanks
    I prefer "would", I see it in the same way as you, but "did" is also possible. It's not a very good cloze test.

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    #4

    Re: Use of 'would'

    Quote Originally Posted by smusca View Post
    In the following cloze test I had a problem:
    .... Robert wanted to marry her but her father .............. not allow him to do so, probably because he thought Burns was not wealthy enough......

    My students wrote 'DID' and I corrected this to 'WOULD' but unfortunately I wasn't able to explain why!!

    I considered the use of would as (a) an obstinate resistance to an action
    or (b) past routine because the father reacted this way to all the men who wanted to marry his daughter.
    Any suggestions?
    THanks
    ***Not a teacher***

    In my opinion, there is a subtle difference, but both are acceptable.
    Using 'did not' is simply a statement of what happened.
    Using 'would not' is slightly more emphatic and draws a little more attention to the role of the father in this sentence in preventing the marriage.

    It is possibly a matter of verbal aspect, which is how the speaker views a situation. In the first ('did not'), the speaker/author is just reporting a historical fact viewed 'from a distance'. In the second ('would not'), the speaker is drawing you more 'inside' the experience - it is as if for an instant you are drawn back to the point in time when the father refuses permission. As I said though - it is a subtle difference, if any.

    Ade

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