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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default He (would or might) have gone abroad??

    Can someone answer the question?

    I haven't seen Jack for years. He (would, might) have gone abroad.

    I'm dealing with this grammar question. Which is correct between would and might? The answer in the grammar book I'm referring to is might, but why not would?

    Is it because would is intentional past, and might is not related to intention but a small chance around 30%?
    But would could be an answer as he may have had a will to go abroad like he tried to go abroad.

    What is the difference among would, could, might when you make a hypothesis about the past?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: He (would or might) have gone abroad??

    How many threads have you started on this type of question, Keannu? Why not try to get one problem sorted before you fire off another.

    With so many threads, you might get slightly different responses from different pople in different threads, leading to further confusion.

    In one of the other threads, one reason for rejecting 'would' in this sentence has been suggested. I have suggested that it is unhelpful to use percentages when talking of possibilities.

    I am interested in this area of English Grammar, but I am afraid I am not going to look at any more of your posts on the subject. There is far too much likelihood of confusion.

  3. #3
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    Default would is really hard to understand!!!

    Okay, I understand what you're talking about.
    As you said, I'd better understand one by one gradually, I was kind of greedy to understand everything. And please help me out in this slow-laddering.

    Going over the replies, I got speechless as I realized how my interpretation of "would" has been quite wrong, and this triggered me to rethink about "would".

    For "would", as I asked last time, would is used for conditionals and presumption.

    1.presumption: We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning. | Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers.
    2. conditional(by me) : If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a car.
    3. Presumption for 2: Jack is really a car-buff, He frequently changes his car, He would have bought a new car recently.

    All of the repliers said "would have come" is a certainty. but in 1 and 3, especially when there is no if-clause, the main clause's "would have pp" can mean a presumption 'cause it can be true or false. So it can be interpreted as "He either bought it or not", That's why I guess this "would"'s certainty is lower than the one in 2 that is a certainty in hypothesis.

    As "would" doesn't exist in Korean along with other languages, Koreans have a hard time understanding it, and I'm not an exception.

    What about the next example?(from Prison Break)

    Scofield: : This is for sara.(he is trying to kill this killer who killed his lover)
    Killer - I never killed sara.
    Scofield - I wouldn't expect someone like you to take this with dignity.
    Killer- I swear to god she's alive.


    I can't understand wouldn't well, because if you are sure of something, if you have a certainty about something, you will say "I will expect.." especially in this kind of bloody, furious, revenging situation. "Wouldn't" seems to lower his emotion or will to revenge the killer. To my understanding, "would" seems lower possiblity(presumption, 70~80%, percentage may be stupid ) < will(100%) in some presumption cases like the above 1,3.

    So does the certainty vary depending on the presence of if-clause, or what is the standard to distinguish the certainty or presumption of "would"?

    I always appreciate your keen analysis, but I'm always worried if my question would look pretty silly to you.



  4. #4
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    Default Re: would is really hard to understand!!!

    Well, I said I wasn't going to look at any more of your posts, but you seem to understand the problem so:
    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    For "would", as I asked last time, would is used for conditionals and presumption.

    1.presumption: We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning. | Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers.
    I prefer 'certainty' to 'presumption'. The speaker is certain in his/her own mind that this was the situation.

    2. conditional(by me) : If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a car.
    That is indeed a (counterfactual) conditional sentence. He did not win the lottery, and he did not buy a car.

    3. Presumption for 2: Jack is really a car-buff, He frequently changes his car, He would have bought a new car recently.
    This is an unlikely utterance. We are, I suspect, more likely to say, "He has probably bought a new car recently". If you insist on using a modal construction then it could be, "He will/may/might have bought...". We are speaking about the speakers present-time thoughts, so 'would have bought' is not really appropriate here. 'Will' implies certainty, 'may' and 'might only possibility. For some speakers 'might' implies that the situation is considered less likely than with 'may'; for others it does not; some do not even use 'may' at all. We cannot, therefore, say for certain what any particular speaker would say in a given situation.

    I always appreciate your keen analysis, but I'm always worried if my question would look pretty silly to you.
    Your questions are far from silly, but they sometimes end up trying to sort out too many problems at the same time. For this reason, I am leaving the second part of your post for another time. Perhaps somebody else will look at it before I return.

  5. #5
    azcl is offline Member
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    Default Re: He (would or might) have gone abroad??

    ***Not a teacher***

    Hi Keannu,

    This is a long post, and time does not permit me to respond to all of it in detail at the moment, but I will pick up on some points...

    All of the repliers said "would have come" is a certainty. but in 1 and 3, especially when there is no if-clause, the main clause's "would have pp" can mean a presumption 'cause it can be true or false.
    As fivejedjon posted yesterday, this is a very complicated area of grammar which is affected by context, tone of voice etc. So it is quite difficult to list rules, and I can understand that it is difficult to grasp if there is no equivalent in your language.

    First let's look at 2)
    If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a car.
    The construction 'if.......(then)...would have' states what the speaker considers to be a certainty.
    'If they had given me the opportunity, I would have taken it.'
    It still does not mean it actually is a certainty, because it is a conditional sentence where the condition is not fulfilled, so we do not actually know what happened in reality. It is not absolutely definite in reality, because I may have died before being able to take the opportunity (to use an extreme example!). It was, however, definite in my mind. I would have had every intention of taking the opportunity.

    Cases 1) and 3) do not follow this rule, they are not conditionals. They use 'would have', as you say in the sense that the speaker 'presumes' he or she is correct. In case 1), the speaker is not saying 'perhaps they were looking for the bank robbers' as if he or she is unsure. 'They would have been looking for the bank robbers', although it is a presumption, is still stating what the speaker believes to be true. Now, if you asked the speaker 'Are you absolutely sure?', they may reply 'Yes', or 'Well it seems very likely'. In other words, in this type of sentence, there are varying degrees of doubt, but in effect, the speaker is stating what they believe to be a fact (or nearly a fact).


    Scofield - I wouldn't expect someone like you to take this with dignity.


    Sometimes in English, we talk about imaginary events, or events that have not yet happened in this way.
    "If he goes to university, I would expect him to do well". At the moment, we don't know whether he is going to university, so it is a conditional (We could say 'if he goes to university, I would expect him to do well'). I could broaden this out and lose the conditional with this sort of statement:
    'I would expect him to do well in life', or the contrary statement:
    'I would not expect him to do well in life'. These are more general opinions, based on my assessment of the person.

    So when Scofield says "I wouldn't expect someone like you to take this with dignity", it is a way of saying 'You are meeting my expectations that you are not the sort of person who can handle this with dignity'. I guess we could call this type of would-construction 'would associated with expectations' (this is my term, not an official term)


    if you are sure of something, if you have a certainty about something, you will say "I will expect.."


    In this context I would not say that. If you use 'will' like that, it is expressing the future tense: "I will expect you here at 5 o' clock"


    Consider the following;
    "I would have expected you to be late"
    If this is said after someone has turned up late, it means:
    "I would have expected you to be late (and you were, so I was right)"
    If you said it after someone turned up early, it would mean
    "I would have expected you to be late (but you weren't, so I was wrong)"
    (note in speech, these would have different tones and intonation).

    Alternatively
    "I wouldn't have expected you to be late"
    If said after someone has turned up late, means:
    "I wouldn't have expected you to be late (but you were - I'm surprised)"
    If said after someone turns up early:
    "I wouldn't have expected you to be late (and you weren't, I was right)"

    So in the Prison Break example, Scofield was effectively saying:
    "Prior to this occasion, my expectation of you was that you were not someone to take this with dignity, and in the event, you have proved me right" (I have deliberately tried to avoid any use of 'would' in that sentence to avoid confusion, and it was not easy!)

    The easiest way to discuss this is face-to-face with a native speaker - it is very difficult in a written forum.

    Ade

  6. #6
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    Default Re: He (would or might) have gone abroad??

    I can't thank enough for both fivejedjon & azcl, but I have a further question.
    azcl! I think I took "would" in "Prison Break" for future conditional, but according to your explanation, it seems to be "refusal in the past".

    Okay, I can understand 1,3 are not conditionals, but presumed certainty.
    However, presumed certainty is kind of an oxymoron or contradiction as you are certain of something, but at the same time you just presume it(uncertainty), so it's kind of confusing.

    What about this example? A very simple one. My American friend wrote to me lately like this.
    "What is the church like in Korea, probably a lot smaller than the one here but i bet there are more Koreans, so that would be fun."

    If you are certain of something, why don't you say "that will be fun" or "that must be fun", that's why I thought "would" is less certainty than "will" in case of present or future tense.

    I guess your answer would be "no, any would in every tense is a certainty".
    I guess "would" is a short form for "seems that something is ~~~"
    For example, "that would be fun" = "It seems it is fun"

    My grammar book says the possibility level like this.

    must>will>would (over 90% possibility = certainty)
    ought to/should (70~80% probability)
    can>could>may>might(30~50% possibility)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: He (would or might) have gone abroad??

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I have a further question.
    azcl wote, "This is a long post, and time does not permit me to respond to all of it in detail at the moment, but I will pick up on some points..."

    Before we have time to get round to other points, you have a fresh question. You are not going to get clear answers like that.

    My grammar book says the possibility level like this.

    must>will>would (over 90% possibility = certainty)
    ought to/should (70~80% probability)
    can>could>may>might(30~50% possibility)
    I have already said elsewhere that this sort of percentage is not helpful.
    Anyway, your book is wrong. 'will' expresses the speaker's certainty, 'must' a logical deduction. 'must' is less certain than 'will'.

    I am going back to what I said in post #2 - "I am interested in this area of English Grammar, but I am afraid I am not going to look at any more of your posts on the subject. There is far too much likelihood of confusion."

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