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    raveee is offline Newbie
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    Default will and would

    HI

    I have confusion of using the past form of WILL i.e would,I know for the pastactioins we use would and also for the past habits we use WOULD.But some cases some one says like" I would do this by tomorrow?and also when to Use "would be"? and Also People use "I would say" what exactly itmeans,Please clarify the above usages of Would?

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    kahhong is offline Member
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    Cool Re: will and would

    The past tense of will is would.

    1. Will (auxilary verb) - used to express the future tense.
    Example: I will finish my homework before 10am.

    2. Would (auxilary verb) - used as the past tense of will.
    Past tense: We said, we would do it.



    Would is also has another usage which is polite request.
    Example: Would you like a cup of coffee?

    Besides that would also can use as like, prefer, be glad.
    Example: I would like to come, we would be glad to help.


    3. Would-be (adjective) - wanting or pretending to be.
    Example: I would-be spiderman.



    Last edited by kahhong; 06-Sep-2007 at 02:08. Reason: Version 1.1. added " is" and would be.

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    Default Re: will and would

    .

    Last edited by weiming; 07-Sep-2007 at 01:45. Reason: Something odd seems to be happening with post order.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: will and would

    Quote Originally Posted by raveee View Post
    HI

    I have confusion of using the past form of WILL i.e would,I know for the past actions we use would and also for the past habits we use WOULD.But some cases some one says like" I would do this by tomorrow?and also when to Use "would be"? and Also People use "I would say" what exactly itmeans,Please clarify the above usages of Would?
    You are confused, Raveee because you've been misled. 'would' is not the past form of 'will', nor is 'will' the present tense form of 'would'.

    In older forms of English, modal verbs had tense but in modern English they are tenseless. That's why 'will' and 'would' and all the other modals, eg can/could/may/might/shall/ should/etc. can be used in the past, present and future; because they have no tense.

    Modals carry modal meaning into the sentence, tense is marked in other ways.

    The bus will have already arrived. [past with 'will']



    Quote Originally Posted by raveee View Post
    "I know for the past actions we use would" ...
    We can't use 'would' as a past tense for 'will' in past actions. There isn't a native speaker of English [ENL] who can produce such a sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by raveee View Post
    "... and also for the past habits we use WOULD."
    Yes, this is partly true; we use 'would' to describe past situations that were routine/often done, but when we use 'would' for these situations, it is not operating as the past tense of 'will'. There is no connection to 'will'.

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    Default Re: will and would

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    Some of the confusion here seems to come from a shallow understanding of the way "would" works, and exactly what it means.

    I'm sure others can explain it in greater detail than I can, but I would like to point out one thing:

    When we use what I will call an "imaginary potential" situation, "would" is needed, and not "will". For example:

    "If you were ever hurt, I would be sad."

    This sentence, in the speaker's mind is not based on a possibility not the result of some real event, but one that is imagined, that could happen at any time in the future. One confusing habit of native speakers is to not distinguish between the two. Let's take a look.

    (Mary is going on a dangerous trip tomorrow Johnny is saying farewell)
    (1)
    Johnny: Oh Mary, do be careful, I don't know what I will do if you are hurt.
    Mary: Worry not a hair on your head, Johnny.

    Here, Johnny sees the possibility of Mary being hurt as real and imminent, her journey (in his mind) must end in her being hurt, or not.

    (2)
    Johnny: Oh Mary, do be careful, I don't know what I would do if you were hurt.
    Mary: Oh Jonny, try not to be such a sop, will you?

    Here, Johnny's fears are more hypothetical. There is no definite reason that Mary should be hurt, but it is not impossible. Note also the past tense of the verb. Is Johhny saying "if you were hurt already, right now at this moment"? No indeed, he is speaking in the "imaginary" form, where it is necessary to use "would" and not "will". As in:

    "Things would be so much easier if I had a car."

    "He would be alive today, if only he had been more careful."

    This "imaginary" form expresses that the speaker knows that what is mentioned may never, or can never come to pass, it is mentioned only as a remote possibility. How remote, depends on the opinion of the speaker, hence our equally possible dialogues between Mary and Johnny.

    Consider this, and you will realise the true reason that native speakers feel it is more polite to use "would" rather than "will".

    "Will you hand me that bag?" (Blunt and direct, will you do it or not?)

    "Can you hand me that bag?" (Well, can you? If you can, then hop to it!)

    "Would you hand me that bag?" (I mean, supposing, if you were in the mood, or had the time, or found it convenient---then would you?)

    The "imaginary" nature of the structure shows that even in the speaker's heart of hearts s/he only considers it a remote possibility that you will agree to do what is asked, s/he certainly does not require it, or expect it.

    Of course, the "real" use of would as in:

    "Last year, I would go swimming at every chance I got."

    --where "would" means "used to", only adds to the confusion of learners and native speakers. Does anyone else have any input/corrections/et c.?

    Last edited by weiming; 07-Sep-2007 at 04:19.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: will and would

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming View Post

    Some of the confusion here seems to come from a shallow understanding of the way "would" works, and exactly what it means.
    One of the major reasons that students are confused, Weiming, is that the modal verbs are badly described as past and present tenses. Historically, yes they were and they can be referred to as Historical past and present tenses to differentiate their backshift roles in reported speech.


    Quote Originally Posted by weiming View Post
    When we use what I will call an "imaginary potential" situation, "would" is needed, and not "will". For example:

    "If you were ever hurt, I would be sad."

    This sentence, in the speaker's mind is not based on a possibility not the result of some real event, but one that is imagined, that could happen at any time in the future. One confusing habit of native speakers is to not distinguish between the two. Let's take a look.

    (Mary is going on a dangerous trip tomorrow Johnny is saying farewell)
    (1)
    Johnny: Oh Mary, do be careful, I don't know what I will do if you are hurt.
    Mary: Worry not a hair on your head, Johnny.

    Here, Johnny sees the possibility of Mary being hurt as real and imminent, her journey (in his mind) must end in her being hurt, or not.

    (2)
    Johnny: Oh Mary, do be careful, I don't know what I would do if you were hurt.
    Mary: Oh Jonny, try not to be such a sop, will you?

    Here, Johnny's fears are more hypothetical. There is no definite reason that Mary should be hurt, but it is not impossible. Note also the past tense of the verb. Is Johhny saying "if you were hurt already, right now at this moment"? No indeed, he is speaking in the "imaginary" form, where it is necessary to use "would" and not "will". As in:

    "Things would be so much easier if I had a car."

    "He would be alive today, if only he had been more careful."

    This "imaginary" form expresses that the speaker knows that what is mentioned may never, or can never come to pass, it is mentioned only as a remote possibility. How remote, depends on the opinion of the speaker, hence our equally possible dialogues between Mary and Johnny.
    An excellent description, Weiming. Why do you add the "teacher disclaimer" to your posts? You do as well as many of the moderators/teachers.

    Just a few points that I'd like to clear up. You seem to have contradicted yourself when you said, [I put both quotes in bold and underlined them] first, that "One confusing habit of native speakers is to not distinguish between the two" and then you stated that "How remote, depends on the opinion of the speaker, hence our equally possible dialogues between Mary and Johnny".

    Native speakers don't confuse these forms; the choice of which form to use, remote or less remote, is up to the individual speaker. Since modals are used to reflect personal opinions and since some people are more nervous than other, of course we will find a range of opinions, which are reflected in structure [remote vs less remote] and modal choice.

    Another issue that you didn't make clear [though you likely meant this; I put it in red, above] is when you said, "note the past tense of the verb". Were you referring to 'were' or 'were and would'.

    The use of 'were' is a past tense FORM, an important distinction; 'would' is not a past tense, it's a tenseless modal, the more remote form of the will/would pair.

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming View Post
    Consider this, and you will realise the true reason that native speakers feel it is more polite to use "would" rather than "will".

    "Will you hand me that bag?" (Blunt and direct, will you do it or not?)

    "Can you hand me that bag?" (Well, can you? If you can, then hop to it!)

    "Would you hand me that bag?" (I mean, supposing, if you were in the mood, or had the time, or found it convenient---then would you?)

    The "imaginary" nature of the structure shows that even in the speaker's heart of hearts s/he only considers it a remote possibility that you will agree to do what is asked, s/he certainly does not require it, or expect it.
    'will' and 'can' are more direct than 'would' and 'could', but they are both polite questions forms because they too express remoteness, not as great a remoteness as 'would' and 'could', hence they are not as polite as the latter two.


    Hand me that bag.

    Can you hand me that bag? Will you hand me that bag?

    Would you hand me that bag? Could you hand me that bag?

    I personally think that can and could are slightly more polite than will and would respectively but the difference is so marginal that it's not worth arguing about.

    'Nuff said for now. I'm bushed!

    Ciao.

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    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: will and would

    Quote Originally Posted by weiming View Post
    When we use what I will call an "imaginary potential" situation, "would" is needed, and not "will". For example:

    "If you were ever hurt, I would be sad."
    I forgot this but it's so important I thought I should clear it up now.

    In an "imaginary potential" situation, either 'will' or 'would' can be used.

    "If you're ever hurt, I will be sad."

    Present tense FORM 'IF' sentences also describe "imaginary potential" situations. Again, as you noted, it's up to the speaker. The relationship between more remote/less remote conditionals isn't an either/or thing. It's a scale running from

    highly possible --> "When you're hurt, ...

    to more remote --> If you're hurt ...

    to even more remote --> If you were hurt, ...

    to a clear counterfactual --> If I were/was you, ...

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    Default Re: will and would

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    You are confused, Raveee because you've been misled. 'would' is not the past form of 'will', nor is 'will' the present tense form of 'would'.

    In older forms of English, modal verbs had tense but in modern English they are tenseless. That's why 'will' and 'would' and all the other modals, eg can/could/may/might/shall/ should/etc. can be used in the past, present and future; because they have no tense.

    Modals carry modal meaning into the sentence, tense is marked in other ways.

    The bus will have already arrived. [past with 'will']





    We can't use 'would' as a past tense for 'will' in past actions. There isn't a native speaker of English [ENL] who can produce such a sentence.



    Yes, this is partly true; we use 'would' to describe past situations that were routine/often done, but when we use 'would' for these situations, it is not operating as the past tense of 'will'. There is no connection to 'will'.
    Additionally,

    1. Would can be used as a past form of will. This happens, for instance, in reported speech after a past ‘reporting’ verb.
    “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
    He said he would see me again the next day.
    Note that we have shall or should in direct speech, and would in reported speech.
    “I should be delighted to come.”
    He said he would be delighted to come.
    2. Would is also used to express the idea of ‘future in the past’ (to talk about a past action which had not yet happened at the time we are talking about.
    He published his first book at the age of twenty. Three years later, he would be a famous poet.
    In Berlin, he first met the woman whom he would one day marry.
    3. Another past use of would is to talk about past habits and characteristic behaviour.
    On Sundays, when I was a child, we would get up early and go fishing.
    He would never let anybody know what he was doing.
    Sometimes she would bring me little presents, without saying why.
    4. Past refusals can be expressed by using wouldn’t
    He was angry because I wouldn’t lend him any money.



    (Source: Michael Swan, Practical English Usage)

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    Default Re: will and would

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]

    riverkid>

    First, thanks so much for helping me out with this very tough word. Your praise is most welcome but there are two good reasons for my disclaimer. The first, as pointed out by a moderator,-casiopea-: mere knowledge of the language and its inner workings, as well as ability to explain those inner workings with some considerable coherence, does not qualify me to teach it to anyone. Responding here without a disclaimer is in fact an act of fraud.

    The second (and perhaps more reasonable) reason, you provide in the very act of offering further correction and explanation to my explanation: there are still many insufficiencies and flaws in my explanations, people need to be warned.

    Having said that, I think that your careful analysis is most instructive, not only to those who may be looking for an explanation, but for myself as well. But then, one of the great rewards of being (or passing oneself off as) a teacher, is learning.

    You pointed out one inconsistency: that I say speakers do not differentiate between the two uses of "would". I should have said "verbally". The difference (as you keenly point out) is clear in the mind of the speaker, but invisible in the surface structure of the language when there is no context.

    I would see him (if I were you).
    I would see him (every day).

    The "past tense of the verb" I mentioned is of course the verb "to be". I do not see "would" as the past tense of the verb "will". I don't see "will" and "would" in this context as verbs at all, but modals, "I willed it to happen" being the exception of course.

    Yes, absolutely, "will" and "can" when used to make indirect structures with requests are equally polite, but as you point out, "would" being further removed from reality and therefore more indirect (less direct?), seems more polite to some hearers.

    Since we are firmly in the territory of minute differences and infinitesimal inflection, I would like to just venture a theory: that there are two "if's", one "imaginary" and one "real", which are again, not distinguished.

    The imaginary "if" uses "would"/"were" what have you, and the past tense of the following verb for clarity.

    "If you were a chestnut tree, I would still love you."
    "If I had a hammer, I would buy some nails."

    And so forth. The "real if" operates on existing facts, where one of two outcomes is viewed as inevitable, and uses "will".

    "If they come in the front door, leave through the back."

    "If he reached the plane on time, he will arrive this afternoon."

    "If I am able to contact him, I will tell him about you."

    I could not say that "if you are ever hurt..." is imaginary though. "Ever" puts it right on the fringe of reality, but still thought of as real. Note its use in vague assurances.

    "If I am ever in your neck of the woods, I will be sure to visit."

    The negative though, reminds us that it is in fact, very real. "If you ever do that again, I will fire you."

    As opposed to: "If you ever did something like that, I would fire you."

    Thanks again for your instructive observations. I look forward to more on this and other topics.

    hdrao>

    While theoretically, the avid student could read the book from which you draw your reference (apparently without alteration) for herself/himself, I'm very glad to see you taking an active and positive role in answering a question, as a teacher no less. We'll be fast friends yet.


    Last edited by weiming; 07-Sep-2007 at 13:43.

  10. #10
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: will and would

    Quote Originally Posted by hdrao View Post
    Additionally,

    1. Would can be used as a past form of will. This happens, for instance, in reported speech after a past ‘reporting’ verb.
    “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
    He said he would see me again the next day.
    Hdrao,

    When we backshift using modal verbs to the Historical Past Tense, it isn't an indication of 'would' as the past tense of 'will'. All these shifts do is alert a native speaker that the speech being reported is not a direct quotation.

    A: [to C] “I’ll see you again tomorrow.”

    B: What did he say?

    C: He said he would see me again tomorrow.

    In this scenario, the 'seeing you again' hasn't come to pass, so how could it be considered a past condition. For most reported speech the condition set after the reporting verb, in this case, 'said', hasn't happened.

    Again, all that's happening is that the speaker is notifying those he/she is reporting to that " This is not exactly what was said to me word for word; I'm just paraphrasing what [name] said to me.

    The only thing that has past is the initial statement, the saying, and that is duly noted by the past tense verb, 'said'.

    We know that these situations have nothing to do with a finished action because we can also use a direct quote;

    He said, "I'll see you again tomorrow."

    Also, any past action is not about the reporting, rather it involves, in this case, whether the person saw the other person 'tomorrow'.

    The description of that finished action can't be explained with 'would', as in,

    He would see me again the following day.

    Rather we'd use;

    He saw me again the next day.

    Let's do another example to make this point clearer.

    A: [to C on the phone] I'll come over to your house.

    B: What did she say?

    1) C: She said that she would come over.

    2) C: She said she's going to come over.

    3) C: She said that she was going to come over.

    Here we see that there are many more ways to report this speech than simply using 'would'. Another clear indication that shifting to 'would' has nothing to do with past tense/time or a finished action.

    Now when A comes over to C's house and either B or C later relate this to anyone, they would never say,

    "She would come over to my house."

    The relating of the ACTUAL finished action would be,

    "She came over to my house."


    Quote Originally Posted by hdrao View Post

    2.[/FONT] [/FONT]Would is also used to express the idea of ‘future in the past’ (to talk about a past action which had not yet happened at the time we are talking about.
    He published his first book at the age of twenty. Three years later, he would be a famous poet.
    In Berlin, he first met the woman whom he would one day marry.
    3.


    These uses of 'would' to talk about a 'future in the past' are also not examples of 'would' as a past tense of 'will'. There's no syntactic/grammatical connection to 'will' They are simply examples of 'would' doing one of the jobs that modal 'would' does.

    Quote Originally Posted by hdrao View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by hdrao View Post
    Another past use of would is to talk about past habits and characteristic behaviour.
    On Sundays, when I was a child, we would get up early and go fishing.
    He would never let anybody know what he was doing.
    Sometimes she would bring me little presents, without saying why.
    4. Past refusals can be expressed by using wouldn’t
    He was angry because I wouldn’t lend him any money.
    Here too, there is no syntactic/grammatical connection to 'will'. Modals simply have no tense. They are a class of tenseless verbs meant to carry social [deontic] meanings and certainty [epistemic] meanings.

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