Results 1 to 2 of 2

    • Join Date: Jul 2010
    • Posts: 8
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    Can't sleep

    I haven't slept well lately because I am troubled by the usage of would. The more I analyze the usage of would, the more I find that would has its discrete usage and the resources printed on most grammar books regarding would are not complete. You guys might not agree with me, but somehow let me explain what I find.

    How often do you hear statements like the following sentences
    i) Adding a significant amount of sodium into chlorine would cause an explosion.
    ii) If you add a significant amount of sodium into chlorine, that would be an explosion.
    iii) Sir, if you can put some sniper on that tower, that would be great.
    iv) if he publicize these classified documents, it would cause a public panic.

    Take a note that the above examples work well if we change would to will, however, by changing would to will, the meanings they represent changed as well. Will here means what you think the result is going to be following an action, it has a time line for the action to start till the outcome of the result. Would here means what you expect the result is going to be following an action, it doesn't have a time line like will, would simply has the meaning that what you expect the result to be if an action is taken! In short, would simply has the distinctive meaning of "is expected to" or "is expected".

    By applying my finding into examples, we could see the following:
    v) If you see anyone walks around the house at 6 pm, that would be (is expected to be) Old Sam.
    vi) The phone rings again, that would be (is expected to be) Michael.
    vii) He wouldn't(is expected not to) take the bait even if you show him all the money you have.

    viii) I would(am willing/am expected to) take the job if the pay is good.
    Many English Teachers would say examples vii) and viii) are totally out of lines. They should be "He wouldn't take the bait even if you showed him all the money you had", and "I would take the job if the pay was good". But if the logic of i) to iv) are correct, why can't we apply the same logic to vii) and viii)? A clean, discrete definition of would without the action result time line. If we refine the definition of would further, it is not hard for us to see that would actually denotes "the expected behavior of an object". That's it, the verb would no longer is the slave of the conditional rule but has its meaning to give characteristic behavior to an object. Following are the results of my finding.

    Conditional sentence: He would travel around the world if he had 2 million dollars. (Correct)
    (He doesn't have 2 million dollars and you don't think he will ever have 2 million dollars.)
    Would denotes behavior/characteristic: He would travel around the world if he has 2 million dollars. (also correct)
    (The person has the behavior/characteristic to travel around the world if he has the money, here it doesn't say that person will or will not ever have the money. The sentence simply says that the person has the tendency to travel around the world if he has money.)

    Well, that is my finding, if you have your own view or argument, feel free to post a reply, I am more than happy to see someone prove I am wrong.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 23,262
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: Can't sleep

    Little Penguin postulated:

    I haven't slept well lately because I am troubled by the usage of "would". The more I analyze the usage of "would" etc., the more I find that would has its discrete usage and the resources printed on most grammar books regarding would are not complete. You guys might not agree with me, but somehow let me explain what I find.
    You need to quote words that don't belong as functional elements in a sentence. They are often confusing.

    How often do you hear statements like the following sentences
    i) Adding a significant amount of sodium into chlorine would cause an explosion.
    ii) If you
    add a significant amount of sodium into chlorine, that would be an explosion.
    iii) Sir, if you
    can put some sniper on that tower, that would be great.
    iv) if he
    publicize these classified documents, it would cause a public panic.

    Take a note that the above examples work well if we change would to will, however, by changing would to will, the meanings they represent changed as well. Will here means what you think the result is going to be following an action, it has a time line for the action to start till the outcome of the result. Would here means what you expect the result is going to be following an action, it doesn't have a time line like will, would simply has the meaning that what you expect the result to be if an action is taken! In short, would simply has the distinctive meaning of "is expected to" or "is expected".

    I don’t think this description is precise. Obviously, “would” is conditional.
    However, “The sun is expected to rise tomorrow” is not conditional. This is expected without imposing a condition. And you can’t say,”The sun would rise tomorrow” unless you specified a condition.

    The truth value of the sentence doesn’t change – just the grammar.
    “If you add sodium to chorine, it explodes.”
    “If you add sodium to chlrine it will explode.”
    “If you added sodium to chlorine, it would explode.”

    The third sentence is phrased as a conditional sentence. It means that it would only explode if you added the sodium and chlorine.. But this is only a grammatical convention. The universal truth, (assuming it’s true) expressed logically is:
    Add (sodium, chlorine) -> explosion.
    The different ways this can be expressed are something of an illusion.
    You can certainly add a timeline, if you wish.
    “If you have added sodium to chlorine before 6am tomorrow, it will have exploded by 6am.”

    By applying my finding into examples, we could see the following:
    v) If you see anyone walks around the house at 6 pm, that would be (is expected to be) Old Sam.
    vi) The phone
    rings again, that would be (is expected to be) Michael.
    This is a different meaning of “would”. It doesn’t expression a logical implication, such as, “If X, then Y”, such as the sodium + chlorine example does.
    It expresses a probability in the speaker’s mind.
    If X, then probably Y. – though ‘probably’ is merely implied. The only truth value it has is the subjective assessment of the probability.

    vii) He wouldn't(is expected not to) take the bait even if you show him all the money you have.
    viii) I would(am willing/am expected to) take the job if the pay is good.
    These are conditional sentences in which the truth value is not necessarily True.
    They are someone’s opinion – a more subjective expectation than the original example.
    We generally don’t separate conditional sentences on the basis of objective truth.

    Many English Teachers would say examples vii) and viii) are totally out of lines. They should be "He wouldn't take the bait even if you showed him all the money you had", and "I would take the job if the pay was good".
    That’s correct. That’s how conditional sentences are expressed. That’s grammar.
    “If you do something, he will …”
    “If you did something, he would …”

    But if the logic of i) to iv) are correct, why can't we apply the same logic to vii) and viii)?
    Sentences ii) to iv) are not correct. They are not expressed grammatically.

    i) Adding a significant amount of sodium into chlorine would cause an explosion.
    ii) If you
    addeda significant amount of sodium into chlorine, that would be an explosion.
    iii) Sir, if you
    [could]put some sniper on that tower, that would be great.
    iv) If he
    publicizedthese classified documents, it would cause a public panic.

    As I explained, the logical truth value of all these sentences isn’t the same. The way the structure of the English conditional is expressed, we don’t have one form for eternal Truths, and another for subjective opinions. It’s uncertain what logical principal you want to apply to vii) and viii). Are you assuming that the English Teachers who would object to vii) and viii) have not objected already to i) to iv) as correctly expressed conditional sentences.?

    A clean, discrete definition of would without the action result time line.
    You haven’t shown that your definition of “would” meaning “is expected to” actually works, as I demonstrated above. “The sun is expected to rise tomorrow” does not equal in logic or meaning, “The sun would rise tomorrow”.
    The definition is clean and discrete, but it’s wrong. May I suggest an amendment to “It is expected to, if certains conditions are met”.
    “If he publicised those documents, it would cause a panic.”
    “If certain conditions are met, it [the conditions] is expected to case a panic”

    If we refine the definition of would further, it is not hard for us to see that would actually denotes "the expected behavior of an object".
    No, the actual expected event or behaviour has not been part of your definition of “would” so far. The definition only goes as far as “is expected to …” Whatever it is expected to do is beyond the definition of “would”.

    That's it, the verb wouldno longer is the slave of the conditional rule but has its meaning to give characteristic behavior to an object.
    By your now amended definition “would” includes the actual event or behaviour that some object is expected to manifest. That is asking a lot from one word, and I think you’ll realise after further reflection that’s it’s impossible for “would” to do this. All it can do is point to the expected behaviour of whatever is outside its own definition, and which is still subject to the condition!

Similar Threads

  1. did not dare/dared not sleep/go to sleep
    By Tan Elaine in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 13-Mar-2009, 06:30
  2. sleep in or sleep late
    By WUKEN in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 17-Nov-2008, 16:18
  3. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-Jul-2008, 11:48
  4. Do you say, sleep in or sleep on my bed? thanks teachers
    By Help Wanted in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-Jun-2006, 19:51
  5. sleep down ?
    By whl626 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 20-Nov-2003, 18:38

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •