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  1. #11
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Hello Dr J

    I believe that "must" derives from the past tense of OE "motan". So it's rather the case that "must" has lost its present tense!

    Interestingly, "would" in the sense with which it appears in this passage (akin to "used to") has only a past meaning.

    All the best,

    MrP

  2. #12
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    MrPedantic: Hello Dr J
    I believe that "must" derives from the past tense of OE "motan". So it's rather the case that "must" has lost its present tense!

    Excuse me for butting in, but I'm puzzled as to what you mean, Mr P.


    Interestingly, "would" in the sense with which it appears in this passage (akin to "used to") has only a past meaning.

    I'm also puzzled here, Sir. The meaning of 'would' here, to my mind, is not the 'would' that is akin to 'used to'.

    After reading DCPaco's reply again, I see he also stated that this was the 'would' of a commonly occurring past action, which, again, I believe is not true. This describes repeated actions but not the common repeated action of the used to/would variety, eg.

    "My mother would stroke my forehead to help me get to sleep".

    Also, IMO, this 'would' doesn't have a past meaning. It has a meaning that points to a repeated but not habitual action.



    "A full moon rose, and still the battle wore on. An hour passed, then another; the combatants staggered and limped. Each time one knight would muster the strength to launch an attack, the other would somehow find the strength to repulse it.
    Twice the two knights fell and lay on the ground gasping, watching each other. But each time one would finally struggle to his feet, the other would stand as well."

  3. #13
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Hello RK

    I believe "must" derives from a past tense form:

    must (v.)
    O.E. moste, pt. of motan "have to, be able to," from P.Gmc. *motanan "to fix, allot, appoint, to have room, to be able" (cf. O.Fris. mota, M.L.G. moten, Du. moeten, Ger. müssen "to be obliged to," Goth. gamotan "to have room to, to be able to"), from PIE base *med- "to measure." Used as present tense from c.1300, from the custom of using past subjunctive as a moderate or polite form of the present.

    (From Etymology Online.)

    The present tense forms turn up in Chaucer, but are no longer used (except perhaps in a rural dialect somewhere). Hence my comment!

    All the best,

    MrP

  4. #14
    Nanatuha is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Well, this discussion is going beyond me. ;P

    I assumed the sentence including the "would" would be past tense construction because sentences surrounding it were written in past tense. So I just thought "How those "would" work in past tense context?", with not especially conscious of what tense the "would" themselves were.

    Honestly speaking I hadn't took that "would" is auxiliary verb into consideration.

  5. #15
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuha View Post
    Well, this discussion is going beyond me. ;P

    I assumed the sentence including the "would" would be past tense construction because sentences surrounding it were written in past tense. So I just thought "How those "would" work in past tense context?", with not especially conscious of what tense the "would" themselves were.

    Honestly speaking I hadn't took that "would" is auxiliary verb into consideration.
    I apologize for the discussion getting too technical. We do that on occasion. A few of the members here are convinced that modal auxiliaries do not have tenses and there are others who are just as convinced that they do. That issue is probably not your prime concern. The modal "would" is sometimes used for a past habitual/repeated action. That is how it is being used in your paragraph. For example:

    Ten years ago, my wife and I would often eat at Joe's. (This describes a repeated action/habit of the couple in the past. One can conclude that they no longer eat at Joe's or at least that they don't eat there very often anymore.)

    My wife and I will often eat at Joe's. (This describes a present repeated action/habit of the couple. One can conclude that the speaker/writer expects that pattern to continue into the future.)

    My wife and I often eat at Joe's. (This "nonmodalized" version expresses a current habit. They only difference I can detect between this and the "will" form is that the speaker has made no judgment about future trips.

    "Would" has many uses and meanings in English. I'll leave you with the citation from American Heritage Dictionary: (the parts I have marked in red are relevant to your original question)

    would (wʊd)
    aux.v., Past tense of will2.
    1. Used to express desire or intent: She said she would meet us at the corner.
    2. Used to express a wish: Would that we had gone with you!
    3. Used after a statement of desire, request, or advice: I wish you would stay.
    4. Used to make a polite request: Would you go with me?
    5. Used in the main clause of a conditional statement to express a possibility or likelihood: If I had enough money, I would buy a car. We would have gone to the beach, had the weather been good. See Usage Note at if.
    6. Used to express presumption or expectation: That would be Steve at the door.
    7. Used to indicate uncertainty: He would seem to be getting better.
    8. Used to express repeated or habitual action in the past: Every morning we would walk in the garden.

  6. #16
    Nanatuha is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    There's no need to apologize. Thanks to you my question has solved before the discussion started, and it helped my understanding somewhat.

    And thank you, MikeNewYork, for giving me detailed examples.

  7. #17
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuha View Post
    There's no need to apologize. Thanks to you my question has solved before the discussion started, and it helped my understanding somewhat.

    And thank you, MikeNewYork, for giving me detailed examples.
    You're very welcome.

  8. #18
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    MikeNewYork: The modal "would" is sometimes used for a past habitual/repeated action. That is how it is being used in your paragraph. For example:

    Except that this was not how it was used in the initial questioner's paragraph, Mike. From the context it's clear that the action was not habitual.


    "Would" has many uses and meanings in English. I'll leave you with the citation from American Heritage Dictionary: (the parts I have marked in red are relevant to your original question)
    [*]Used to express repeated or habitual action in the past: Every morning we would walk in the garden.[/LIST]

    Dictionaries still describe modals as having tense but they, [like some others] simply can't provide any examples to prove that it's true.

    In the AHD listing of meanings for <would>, there is no example sentence to illustrate that <would> is the past tense of <will>

    For years, I've asked native speakers to provide examples and they've been unable to do so.

    One would [not past tense] think that these examples would leap out. That they don't tells us that modal verbs, in modern English, are tenseless.



    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    MikeNewYork:

    Ten years ago, my wife and I would often eat at Joe's. (This describes a repeated action/habit of the couple in the past. One can conclude that they no longer eat at Joe's or at least that they don't eat there very often anymore.)

    My wife and I will often eat at Joe's. (This describes a present repeated action/habit of the couple. One can conclude that the speaker/writer expects that pattern to continue into the future.)

    My wife and I often eat at Joe's. (This "nonmodalized" version expresses a current habit. They only difference I can detect between this and the "will" form is that the speaker has made no judgment about future trips.

    So far, you've provided no examples to substantiate the contention that modals have tense.


    In the AHD quote, there were lots of meanings, Mike, just as you said. But, once again, no examples that illustrate modals have tense. Very strange indeed.

  9. #19
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    MikeNewYork: The modal "would" is sometimes used for a past habitual/repeated action. That is how it is being used in your paragraph. For example:

    Except that this was not how it was used in the initial questioner's paragraph, Mike. From the context it's clear that the action was not habitual.


    "Would" has many uses and meanings in English. I'll leave you with the citation from American Heritage Dictionary: (the parts I have marked in red are relevant to your original question)[*]Used to express repeated or habitual action in the past: Every morning we would walk in the garden.[/list]
    Dictionaries still describe modals as having tense but they, [like some others] simply can't provide any examples to prove that it's true.

    In the AHD listing of meanings for <would>, there is no example sentence to illustrate that <would> is the past tense of <will>

    For years, I've asked native speakers to provide examples and they've been unable to do so.

    One would [not past tense] think that these examples would leap out. That they don't tells us that modal verbs, in modern English, are tenseless.


    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    MikeNewYork:

    Ten years ago, my wife and I would often eat at Joe's. (This describes a repeated action/habit of the couple in the past. One can conclude that they no longer eat at Joe's or at least that they don't eat there very often anymore.)

    My wife and I will often eat at Joe's. (This describes a present repeated action/habit of the couple. One can conclude that the speaker/writer expects that pattern to continue into the future.)

    My wife and I often eat at Joe's. (This "nonmodalized" version expresses a current habit. They only difference I can detect between this and the "will" form is that the speaker has made no judgment about future trips.

    So far, you've provided no examples to substantiate the contention that modals have tense.

    In the AHD quote, there were lots of meanings, Mike, just as you said. But, once again, no examples that illustrate modals have tense. Very strange indeed.
    So far, you've provided no examples to substantiate the contention that modals have tense.

    There is a vast difference between examples and examples you accept. You use your premise (that modals have no tense) to try to defeat every example to the contrary. The fact that it is circular logic seems to escape you.

    A: Modals have no tense.
    B: How about xxxxxxxxxxxxx?
    A: That's not past tense.
    B: Why not?
    A: Because modals have no tense.

  10. #20
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Would in past tense

    You've provided no examples, Mike. The dictionaries provide no examples. You'd love to but you simply can't.

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