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  1. #1
    eljmcl is offline Newbie
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    I should be grateful if you would?

    Is 'I should be grateful if you would' correct English? I have been working at a firm of accountants for 4 1/2 years now where they use this phrase and when I first came across it I was insistent that it was incorrect as 'should' in this context is a possibility when in fact the context is an obligation.

    Most common written example used:

    'I should be grateful if you would return the form to me'.

    I am happy to stand corrected, but to put my mind at rest I would appreciate any insight anyone has!

    Many thanks

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    Quote Originally Posted by eljmcl View Post
    Is 'I should be grateful if you would' correct English? I have been working at a firm of accountants for 4 1/2 years now where they use this phrase and when I first came across it I was insistent that it was incorrect as 'should' in this context is a possibility when in fact the context is an obligation.

    Most common written example used:

    'I should be grateful if you would return the form to me'.

    I am happy to stand corrected, but to put my mind at rest I would appreciate any insight anyone has!

    Many thanks
    It's perfectly correct.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    Must be a BrE thing. I would rather hear that they will be grateful, not that they should.

  4. #4
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    I BrE, you can use "should" to mean the conditional "would." Remember Churchill's retort to a termagant who tried to insult him by saying "Sir, if you were my husband, I should [would] flavour your tea with poison."

    He: "Madam, if you were my wife, I should drink it!"

  5. #5
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I BrE, you can use "should" to mean the conditional "would." Remember Churchill's retort to a termagant who tried to insult him by saying "Sir, if you were my husband, I should [would] flavour your tea with poison."

    He: "Madam, if you were my wife, I should drink it!"
    Thanks. I know the anecdote, but always heard it (and told it) with "would."

  6. #6
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Thanks. I know the anecdote, but always heard it (and told it) with "would."
    It was definitely "should" in the original.

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    I believe you. I guess I learned something today. (Though I'll probably still Americanize the wording when relating the story.)

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    [QUOTE=eljmcl;842063]

    'I should be grateful if you would return the form to me'.


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) All the other posters have given you the answer. I only wanted to add a

    few points.

    (2) I think that the problem lies in the use of the word "shall" for the first person ("I"

    and "we").

    (a) According to "perfect" English, one says "I/we shall go to the movies tomorrow."


    The "experts" say that one uses "I/we will" only when we REALLY mean "WILL!"

    In other words, "shall" for the future; "will" to show determination.

    (i) In 2012, however, almost no Americans observe this distinction. They use "will"

    for I, you, he, she, it, we, and they.

    (3) [I have deleted this section because of the excellent following posts by Konungursvia and 5jj.]

    (4) The people in your office are to be congratulated. They are trying to write

    "perfect" English. But do not feel bad. Some experts say that we ordinary

    people can NEVER learn to use "shall/should" correctly. Only those "to the

    manner born" can do so (that is, those born into upper-class British families).
    Last edited by TheParser; 10-Jan-2012 at 13:03.

  9. #9
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    [QUOTE=TheParser;842147]
    Quote Originally Posted by eljmcl View Post

    'I should be grateful if you would return the form to me'.


    NOT A TEACHER


    (1) All the other posters have given you the answer. I only wanted to add a

    few points.

    (2) I think that the problem lies in the use of the word "shall" for the first person ("I"

    and "we").

    (a) According to "perfect" English, one says "I/we shall go to the movies tomorrow."


    The "experts" say that one uses "I/we will" only when we REALLY mean "WILL!"

    In other words, "shall" for the future; "will" to show determination.

    (i) In 2012, however, almost no Americans observe this distinction. They use "will"

    for I, you, he, she, it, we, and they.

    (3) As you know, the past tense of "shall" is "should." So if you want to speak

    "perfect" English, one needs to say, "I should be happy if you would visit me

    tonight." But since Americans do not follow this rule, we always hear "I would be

    happy if you would ...."

    (4) The people in your office are to be congratulated. They are trying to write

    "perfect" English. But do not feel bad. Some experts say that we ordinary

    people can NEVER learn to use "shall/should" correctly. Only those "to the

    manner born" can do so (that is, those born into upper-class British families).
    It's a good answer, but I don't agree entirely with (3).

    It's very likely correct that 'should' can in some cases act as the past tense of shall, but I think it's read as a conditional here. Incidentally, I only hear relatively uneducated AmE speakers double up the conditional: "I would be happy if you would return the form to me" (which ought rightly to be "I would be happy if you returned the form to me." Or I believe I'm right in saying this.

  10. #10
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: I should be grateful if you would?

    [QUOTE=konungursvia;842149]
    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post

    It's a good answer, but I don't agree entirely with (3).

    It's very likely correct that 'should' can in some cases act as the past tense of shall, but I think it's read as a conditional here. Incidentally, I only hear relatively uneducated AmE speakers double up the conditional: "I would be happy if you would return the form to me" (which ought rightly to be "I would be happy if you returned the form to me." Or I believe I'm right in saying this.

    NOT A TEACHER


    You are 100% correct that "many" Americans say something like:

    " If I would have had time last night, I would have visited you"

    instead of the correct "If I had had time last night, I would have ...."

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