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Thread: who is online

  1. #31
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    Perhaps it's a little too late to comment now. But I'm interested in the classification of this use of "would" under "expressing a mood":

    1. She would wait every evening for the bus.

    To my perhaps defective ears, it seems more akin to an imperfect tense than a modal usage, and carries a real sense of past-ness. (You might use it to translate Flaubert's imperfect tenses, for instance.)

    It's a pleasure to hear so many familiar voices on this thread, by the way.

    MrP
    I agree that 'would' often carries a plain concept of past-ness in your example, though 'would' in the past can carry modality- the example earlier in the thread of the car that wouldn't start this morning, for instance.

  2. #32
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: who is online

    Yes, I agree; my comments are limited to the 3rd use of "would", as conveniently tabulated by Casiopea:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Auxiliary Verb: expresses past tense
    [1] past of will
    EX: "I will go," said Max. (reported speech: Max said he would go.)

    Modal Auxiliary: expresses a mood
    [2] to express a condition
    EX: They would have been killed if they had gone.
    [3] to express habitual action
    EX: She would wait every evening for the bus.
    [4] to express a polite request
    EX: Would you like some more cake?
    [5] to express probability
    EX: She would be over fifty by now
    [6] to express consent
    EX: They would not help.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I might be inclined to move #3 out of "Modal Auxiliary", and into a new category.

    MrP

  3. #33
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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by Roro
    Interesting paper. Thank you so much for your invaluable information, for your reference.
    You're most welcome for the link, Roro. Thank Tim Stowell for the rest, not me.

    I like your style, too.

  4. #34
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    Default Re: who is online

    It's great to see you, MrP.

    Modal Auxiliary: expresses a mood
    [3] to express habitual action
    EX: She would wait every evening for then bus.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    I might be inclined to move #3 out of "Modal Auxiliary", and into a new category.
    Interesting spin. Come to think of it, "used to" doesn't have a present or future form, either.

    As for a "new" category, you're way ahead of me. I'm still roaming around the current ones.

    "Auxiliary-verb" certainly doesn't work . . . or does it?

    [1] You will wait for the bus every evening. (habitual)

    [2] You would wait for the bus every evening, didn't you? (past tense)

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    I agree that 'would' often carries a plain concept of past-ness in your example, [Mr Pedantic], though 'would' in the past can carry modality- the example earlier in the thread of the car that wouldn't start this morning, for instance.
    Nice.

    EX: The car wouldn't start. (consent)
    EX: The car would never start. (habitual action)

  5. #35
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: who is online

    And I like both your styles, Roro and Casiopea. (An interesting and useful constellation, by the way.)

    As for the new category I may be way ahead of myself, too. I'm happy to move #3 into the first category.

    (Though it seems to me that "will/would" in the first two senses has not entirely surrendered its own meaning, and so perhaps isn't entirely auxiliary. In sense 1, for instance, "will" can still have a sense of "intention"; and in sense 2, there seems to be subterranean presence of "willing". Nonetheless...)

    Category 1 Auxiliary Verb
    1. past of will reported speech:
    EX: "I will go," said Max. → Max said he would go.

    2. past of will habitual or recurring action (the "obituary" tense):
    EX: He'll ride round the ranch every evening, checking the fences and bringing in stray steers. → He would ride round the ranch every evening, etc.

    Category 2 Modal Auxiliary
    3. to express a condition
    EX: They would have been killed if they had gone.

    4. to express a polite request
    EX: Would you pass me some more cake?

    5. to express probability
    EX: She would be over fifty by now

    6. to express consent
    EX: They would not help.

    MrP

  6. #36
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default The senselessness of tenselessness...

    ...I hope no one minds if I blather for a little bit longer. Now, DBG says: "In modern English, the modal verbs are tenseless. This allows them to operate in all tenses, past, present and future."

    Interesting. But as has been said, the past and present tenses of non-modal verbs also operate in other time frames:

    7. "I drive to work." [Present tense; but relates to past and future acts of driving.]

    8. "If you took that road, you'd get there quicker." "Why, thank you. I will take that road, then!" [Past tense of "take"; but relates to a future "taking".]

    And as Casiopea's categories show, in at least two senses, "would" acts as the past tense of "will". But what of senses 3 to 6?

    3a. If they had gone, they would have been killed by now.
    3b. If they have gone, they will have been killed by now.

    Hmm. Is there a past/present relationship between 3a/3b?

    (Someone might say, "but both relate to the past!" Yes; but that is the past-ness of the "being killed", which resides in the perfect infinitive. There also seems to be a separate present-ness/past-ness, by which we know that 3b relates to an open, present possibility, and 3a to a closed, past possibility; and that seems to reside in "will/would". But I'm by no means sure about this one.)

    4a. Would you pass me some more cake?
    4b. Will you pass me some more cake?

    No; not a temporal, past/present distinction: remote/immediate.

    5a. She would be over fifty by now.
    5b. She will be over fifty by now.

    Hmm. If the woman in 5a were dead...But then we would have to move 5a into number 3, "expressing a condition": implicitly, "she would be over fifty, now, if she were alive."

    6a. They would not help.
    6b. They will not help.

    Here, there does seem to be a possible present/past relationship: "they were/are unwilling to help". But what if "they wouldn't help" related to a present/future act of helping?

    6c. "I've asked them to help. But they wouldn't."

    Well, it's true that the "helping" is in the future. But the "being unwilling" began in the past, when I asked them for help. Let's change it, then:

    6d. "I'll ask those chaps to help." "They wouldn't help us!"

    But then, doesn't that make 6d a number 3? Expressing a condition? Hmm.

    So we seem to have two uses of "would" where there is a past/present relationship with "will" (1 and 2); two uses where there isn't (4 and 5); and two uses where there might be (3 and 6). Can that be defined as "tenselessness", I wonder?

    MrP
    Last edited by MrPedantic; 01-Oct-2005 at 13:39.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: who is online

    Hello Casiopea, MrP, thank you for your kind words... !

    Let me add just a word, as to MrP's 3a, 3b.

    3a. If they had gone, they would have been killed by now.
    3b. If they have gone, they will have been killed by now.
    3c. If they had gone (before this change took place), they will have been killed by now.
    Can I add this one??

    .................................................. ...............................

    They have two parts, so we shoud be more careful here, in my humble opinion. I gather from what I learned that if-clause sets some hypothetical (in 3b, 3c) or hypothetical/counterfactual (as in 3a) situation (or 'possible world'). The second part expresses some proposition with modality from that hypothetical world, so to speak.

    I mean: these usage of 'would' and 'will' in 3a-3c are certainly restricted by if-clause, but I feel a bit uneasy when you call them 'conditional.'

    It may be a hairsplitting.

    A lot of food for thought in this thread. Thank you, everyone !

  8. #38
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    Default Re: The senselessness of tenselessness...

    Greetings, all. Great discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    ...I hope no one minds if I blather for a little bit longer.
    Please, do. Brings to mind a whole new, albeit unrelated concept, Blogging.com : : Blathering.com.

    Now, DBG says: "In modern English, the modal verbs are tenseless. This allows them to operate in all tenses, past, present and future."
    Agreed. But we should also try to agree on terminology here. In that context, 'tense' refers to temporal ordering predicates, not morphological change (e.g., drive, drove, driven; will, would). As for 'tenseless' being a characteristic that 'allows [modals] to operate in all tenses, if that's the case, how do we explain, say, *could had driven? or *can drove?

    7. "I drive to work." [Present tense; but relates to past and future acts of driving.]
    Morphologically, 'drive' is present tense. It expresses a fact. That I drive to work every day and have done so every day for the past 5 years is housed in the factual meaning. As for 8., pastness 'resides' or is housed in the meaning expressed by the condition; i.e., if you took ~ if you were to take.

    3a. If they had gone, they would have been killed by now.
    3b. If they have gone, they will have been killed by now.

    Is there a past/present relationship between 3a/3b?
    I like Roro's suggestion: "counterfactual" , which to me (and my diectic hypothesis) translates as 'known/familar', hence 'would' pastness. As for 3b, my brain is mush, sorry. Is 3b possible? I can't get my mind to bend that way at the moment. If it works, then 'will' expresses what's unknown.

    There also seems to be a separate present-ness/past-ness, by which we know that 3b relates to an open, present possibility, and 3a to a closed, past possibility; and that seems to reside in "will/would". But I'm by no means sure about this one.)
    My mind's anchored to 'had gone' and 'have gone', though. I can't seem to separate them from 'would' and 'will'.

    4a. Would you pass me some more cake?
    4b. Will you pass me some more cake?

    No; not a temporal, past/present distinction: remote/immediate.
    In terms of deictics (relational space, not time), though, right? polite usage, 'Would' non-familar; 'Will' familiar. (Note, 'familar' isn't the correct term. . . . lack of sleep. My apologies.

    5a. She would be over fifty by now.
    5b. She will be over fifty by now.

    Hmm. If the woman in 5a were dead...But then we would have to move 5a into number 3, "expressing a condition": implicitly, "she would be over fifty, now, if she were alive."
    Agreed. Poor soul. As for pastness, 'decitics' work. 5b, known/familiar; 5a, not know/unfamiliar, as it relates to probability.

    6a. They would not help.
    6b. They will not help.

    Here, there does seem to be a possible present/past relationship: "they were/are unwilling to help". But what if "they wouldn't help" related to a present/future act of helping?
    Again, deictics work; 6b "will not", familiar with their character, hence "will not" expresses a known fact; 6a "would not", unknown, in that it's related to one's will:

    EX: They would not help because they were too busy.
    EX: The car would not start because it was out of gas.
    => consent and reason are given, but reasoning (~ will) behind consent is either unknown or not important. One's will is an integral part of one's humanness, if not what makes us Human.

    What about 'not'? The following examples sound odd to me - and they're my examples. Can you get a 'would' (consent) #6 reading?

    EX: They would help. (I get a reported speech reading)
    EX: The car would start. (I get a condition reading; i.e., only if . . . )

    Hmm. That 'would' (consent) #6 pairs with 'not' is interesting. The adverb negates will(ing)ness, but omit 'not' and we get 'would' (reported speech) #1 from Category 1 (and possibly 'would' #3 (condition) from Category 2, but context is required for that reading, so let's leave it out). What's up with 'would not' (#6) => 'would' (#1)?

    6d. "I'll ask those chaps to help." "They wouldn't help us!"

    But then, doesn't that make 6d a number 3? Expressing a condition? Hmm.
    Interesting flip. To me, though, it still expresses consent/will. That which is hidden/unfamiliar/not known about a person or a thing, where pastness is a matter of deictics, specifically relative knowledge.

    So we seem to have two uses of "would" where there is a past/present relationship with "will" (1 and 2); two uses where there isn't (4 and 5); and two uses where there might be (3 and 6). Can that be defined as "tenselessness", I wonder?
    Nice. Thanks. Here it is again. (Please See Below) I've added in your suggestions, and I've also provided my suggestion. They're in pink. My conclusion, so far, is that 3. (condition) and 6. (consent), and probably even 2. (habitual; but see my Note at the end of this post), belong in Category 2.

    Category 1
    Present/Past Alternation, so true predicates
    Past tense morphology expresses a temporal ordering predicate.

    1. reported speech (will, would)
    2. habitual (will, would) *subject to (more) acceptability judgements

    Tentively 'Present/Past Alternation, so possible predicates
    Pastness is a matter of diectics, or relative, speaker knowledge.

    3. to express a condition (will have; would have)
    6. to express consent (will not, known will(ingness); would not, unknown will)

    Category 2
    No Present/Past Alternation, so true modals
    Pastness is a matter of diectics, or relative, speaker knowledge.

    4. to express a polite request (will, familiar; would, not familiar, polite speech)
    5. to express probability (will, known; would, not know. Relational possibility)


    Note, 'would' (habitual) or 'would' #2: 'tense' or 'pastness'?

    EX: She would take the bus every day. (habitual)

    'would' expreses "known" information with a factual meaning; i.e., Cf. I drive every day. But it also expresses a habit, which 'drive' cannot, so I'd say it lacks "tense", but that it expresses pastness, in the sense of relative knowledge. If 'would' #2 carried "tense", we'd have a lot of explaining to do. Notably, the assumption that 'would' functions as a predicate. On to 'will' #2, now:

    EX: She will take the bus every day.

    'will' seems to be more like a form of command than a 'habitual' act. It's similar to causative verbs, you know? She will do this! on her on accord, or course, but it's not her will. Someone makes her do it. willingness is ever present, so 'will' (habitual) #2 is a misnomer.


    In short, these are my suggestions. ( Looks a lot like the list we started with, originally.)

    Category 1
    Present/Past Alternation, so true predicates
    Past tense morphology expresses a temporal ordering predicate.

    1. reported speech (will, would)

    Category 2
    No Present/Past Alternation, so true modals
    Pastness is a matter of diectics, or relative, speaker knowledge.

    2. to express a habit (will, yet to be known act; would, familar/known act)
    3. to express a condition (will have, not yet known; would have, known)

    4. to express a polite request (will, familiar; would, not familiar, polite speech)
    5. to express probability (will, known; would, unknow. Relational possibility)
    6. to express consent (will, known will(ingness); would, unknown will(ingness)

    Now here's a new twist. Notice that 'would' is defined as familar/known in 2. and 3., yet defined as not familiar/unknown in 4. through 6. Why is there a different?

  9. #39
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: who is online

    Quote Originally Posted by Roro
    A lot of food for thought in this thread.
    Yes indeed. Thanks to both of you!

    I'm taking it in easy bite-sized pieces, so I may not respond immediately...

    MrP

  10. #40
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    Default Re: who is online

    Hello Casiopea, it's a pleasure for me to read your explanation. Thank you, for your kindness, for your time.

    I have a little question. Can I understand your oppisitions in the explanation on modal,

    familar/known vs. unfamilar/unknown

    as

    (more or less) direct vs.remote

    ?

    (I think they mean roughly the same, just wanted to make sure, to understand better.
    I'm still a here )

    And do you consider 'habituality' as one of modal meanings? (Sorry if I've misunderstood your explanation.) Simply I've learned another point of view, so I think MrP's proposal would be fairly possible (or exists already?).

    One more thing (don't take it as an nitpicking please):
    I couldn't find the term 'diectics' in my dictionary, maybe it's a variant/typo of 'deictic' ?

    I'm really grateful for your time you took. I have no intention to trouble you. Sorry for my trifle question on terminology; I'm interested in the question, at the present moment, how (or to what extent) we can apply this classification to another languages. This is the reason of my trifle question on terminology English is the most studied language, it plays an important role in the analyses of another languages, as you know...
    (ooops... we are in [Ask a teacher] section here, yes I remember .)

    With my best regards,
    Last edited by Roro; 02-Oct-2005 at 06:48.

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