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Thread: would or should

  1. #1
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    would or should

    Dear All,

    Which one should we choose and why?

    If he ___ come late, give him the message.
    (1) should
    (2) would

    I consider that both are correct, because first of all, if we consider the sentence as a subjunctive mood and for the future-unreal, then according to grammatical rules, we should use "should".

    However, why we cannot use "would"? I read a grammatical rule which says that if we talk about something uncertain in the future, we should substitute "would" for "will", so in this case, it seems reasonable to use "would", too.

    So, which one will you choose and why?
    Thanks a lot for your kind assistance.

    Best Regards,
    Cicily

  2. #2
    Mister Micawber's Avatar
    Mister Micawber is offline Key Member
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    'Should' is the answer, and the sentence is merely conditional, not subjunctive.

    'Would' in an uncertain or improbable future would appear in the 'then'-clause, not the 'if'-clause: 'If he came late, I would give it to him'.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    You wouldn't use 'would' in the if- clause. 'Should' is used to reduce the likelihood of the event.

  4. #4
    wunaide Guest

    Re: would or should

    Which one should we choose and why?
    What a strange question.

    you could set a condition for the implementation of a certain action with

    if he should come late, give him the message (cond.),

    which is really just a verbose version of

    if he comes late, give him the message (cond.),

    or you could hypothesise with

    If he were to come late, you would give him the message (subjunct.)

  5. #5
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    Dear All,

    Thanks for all of you!! :D

    Best Regards,
    Cicily

  6. #6
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    Re: would or should

    Quote Originally Posted by wunaide
    If he were to come late, you would give him the message (subjunctive)
    Agreed. :D

    If he happens to come late,...
    If he be late,...

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