Dear all,On Monday, administration officials said that they would try to iron out the kinks in the system in response to public concerns, but they maintained that the new system would be around as long as there were people seeking to blow up planes. New York Times (subscription, free)
I think of "would" as one of trickiest words in English and it may take times to understand what it exactly means in a sentence. Now I suspect it expresses in above that insistence. Could you please tell me whether my understanding is correct? Thanks.
Here is what I've learned about would.
I suspect in my case it express insistence. Am I right? Thanks agian.Would can also be used to express willingness:
Would you please take off your hat?
It can also express insistence (rather rare, and with a strong stress on the word "would"):
Now you've ruined everything. You would act that way.
and characteristic activity:
After work, he would walk to his home in West Hartford.
She would cause the whole family to be late, every time.
In a main clause, would can express a hypothetical meaning:
My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.
Finally, would can express a sense of probability:
I hear a whistle. That would be the five o'clock train.
Back to your original question:
they maintained that the new system would be around as long as there were people seeking to blow up planes.
This is an example of indirect speech. The original words were:
"The new system will be around as long as there are people...".
This is will used to express futurity/certainty. So, when backshifted in indirect speech to would, it conveys the same idea.
Last edited by 5jj; 23-Nov-2010 at 20:40. Reason: typo