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  1. #1
    eggcracker's Avatar
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    Default Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    I saw below sentence containing both 'would' and 'at present'. Doesn't 'would' indicate 'past tense' and 'at present' indicate 'present tense' except the expression like "I would like to~"? I can not understand why both two are in the following sentence.
    "Paying a fine would be difficult at present."
    Last edited by eggcracker; 28-Jun-2012 at 22:20.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    "Would" does not necessarily indicate the past. "Would have" does.

    I would like a cup of tea. I would like it right now. I would like another one in half an hour.
    What would you do if Brad Pitt turned up at your front door later tonight? I would probably faint.

    We quite frequently use "would be" when we mean "is". It's a sort of shy way of saying it.

    Paying a fine would be difficult at present = I'm rather embarrassed to say I am short of money.
    That would be me = It's me (Imagine the question was something like "Who is going to the Cliff Richard concert tonight?"
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    Tense and time are not synonymous in English- we can use past tense forms to refer to the present and the future sometimes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    And vice versa. Future tense for past time is rare, but possible (especially in a context that uses the historic present): '1913. Sarajevo. The Emperor Franz Josef rises early as usual, but it is the last time he will do this.' *(This is not a usage I recommend, but I've certainly seen it used.

    b

    PS *History was never my strong point [there's a past tense referring to a present state], so this example may be ridiculous in any number of ways.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    "Would" does not necessarily indicate the past. "Would have" does.
    I would have to qualify that. "Would have + past part." indicates the past.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can auxiliary verb 'would' be used in present tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I would have to qualify that. "Would have + past part." indicates the past.
    Apologies, yes, of course "would have" alone says nothing.

    I would have gone to the beach if it had been sunny.
    He would have been able to buy a car if he had had more money.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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