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  1. bender9
    Guest
    #1

    Question "would" - possibility?

    Assuming that Mary just hung up the phone.

    Mary: The guy on the phone had French accent.
    Peter: It would be Nathan.

    I wonder if it is correct to use "would" in this case, because modal verb "would", unlike will, cannot be used to express the sense of possibility.

    Personally, I reckon that "could" should be used OR "would have been", just as:
    It would have been Nathan.

    To English natives, is "would" usually used in this sense?

    your help is immensely valuable.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
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    #2

    Re: "would" - possibility?

    Quote Originally Posted by bender9 View Post
    Assuming that Mary just hung up the phone.

    Mary: The guy on the phone had French accent.
    Peter: It would be Nathan.

    I wonder if it is correct to use "would" in this case, because modal verb "would", unlike will, cannot be used to express the sense of possibility.

    Personally, I reckon that "could" should be used OR "would have been", just as:
    It would have been Nathan.

    To English natives, is "would" usually used in this sense?

    your help is immensely valuable.
    Yes, to me, "would" is useable here. It does, however, denote a little more than possibility - I would say that Peter is almost certain that it was Nathan on the phone, given the information he has about the caller's accent.

    If he only believes that it's a possibility that it was Nathan, he is more likely to say "Ah, that could be (or have been) Nathan".

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