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  1. triettran's Avatar
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    #1

    Post Will and Would; Can and Could

    Dear,

    I would appreciate your help on this. I am actually quite familiar with English and use it pretty well. However, there are still some simple problems I find quite confusing.

    I recently read a transcript of President Obama and found that in the talk, he uses Could and Would in very similar ways that we usually use Can and Will.

    For examples:

    "The challenges facing financial markets around the world could have very real effects on our own economy at a time when itís already fragile"

    "Right now, there are millions of laid-off construction workers who could be repairing our bridges and roads and modernizing our schools"

    Please fix me if I'm wrong but I think using could here doesn't make the sentence look more formal, and we can use CAN instead.

    And some more:

    "So any Senator out there whoís thinking about voting against this jobs bill needs to explain why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation"

    " The American Jobs Act would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America"

    Again, WOULD can totally be replaced by WILL in these statements (right?). Actually in the speech, there are several places that use WILL and those statements have exactly the same meaning as the 2 above:

    "It is time for those who oppose the jobs act to explain why they are fighting against something that we know will improve the American economy"

    "this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and middle-class families all across America"

    I don't think WILL is used for more certain statements because a President's speech should not have any weak arguments.

    Please help me to sort this out, it's not very important to me but just for my curiosity. And keep in mind that I'm from Vietnam and have no political interest in this. I use Weekly Address to practice speaking that's all.

    Thanks so much,

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    #2

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    "Right now, there are millions of laid-off construction workers who could be repairing our bridges and roads and modernizing our schools"
    They aren't doing this work at the moment, which is why he uses could- they're unemployed and not doing the work.

    The American Jobs Act would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America
    The Act had not been passed at the time he was speaking, so will is too certain because of the risk of the Act not getting passed.

    He's not using them to sound more formal, but to talk about things that are not real- the work is not being done and the Act had not been passed.

  2. triettran's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Thank you Tdol, it's very nice to see such a quick reply.
    I get it for COULD, it is to describe an unreal situation, but do you think CAN can fit in those statements too? If you say "The challenges facing financial markets around the world can have a very real effect on our economy" then you also describe a possibility, which has not happened either.

    And for WOULD, I think it's quite not very clear. If the speech doesn't want to be too certain, then take a look at other places in the speech:
    "It is time for those who oppose the jobs act to explain why they are fighting against something that we know will improve the American economy"
    "this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and middle-class families all across America"
    These statements are not too certain, are they?

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Quote Originally Posted by triettran View Post
    I recently read a transcript of President Obama and found that in the talk, he uses Could and Would in very similar ways that we usually use Can and Will.
    Here's your mistake. When you've read a bit more, you'll notice that the use of 'would' and 'could' in such statements is possibly more usual than 'will' and 'can'.

    If something can happen, there's a certain probability that it could happen.
    If an Act will have certain effects if it's passed, it would have certain effects if it were passed.
    Sometimes there's no clear reason to choose one form over the over.

  4. triettran's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Here's your mistake. When you've read a bit more, you'll notice that the use of 'would' and 'could' in such statements is possibly more usual than 'will' and 'can'.

    If something can happen, there's a certain probability that it could happen.
    If an Act will have certain effects if it's passed, it would have certain effects if it were passed.
    Sometimes there's no clear reason to choose one form over the over.
    Thank you Raymott, if that's the case, then I would have to get used to it.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Quote Originally Posted by triettran View Post
    Thank you Raymott, if that's the case, then I would will have to get used to it.
    This is a real possibility.
    If that was/were the case, then I would have to get used to it.

    That is a hypthetical possibility.

  6. triettran's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    @fivejedjon: I think I'm talking about a real possibility here. And according to Raymott I can use Will/ Would or Can/ Could interchangeably. Don't you agree?

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Quote Originally Posted by triettran View Post
    @fivejedjon: I think I'm talking about a real possibility here. And according to Raymott I can use Will/ Would or Can/ Could interchangeably. Don't you agree?
    I most certainly did not say that. If I could outlaw one word from this group, it would be 'interchangeable'.
    There's no possible way I could have used 'will' for 'would' in the above sentence. And there's no way I could have used 'can' for 'could' in the previous sentence or this one.
    What I said was that in some circumstances, you can convey your idea by using a construction with either 'can' or 'could', and similarly with 'will' and 'would'. But the rest of the sentence would have to make sense with the word you've chosen - just as they do in the Obama examples.
    Last edited by Raymott; 16-Oct-2011 at 07:01.

  8. triettran's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    So you mean that if I choose to use "could" in one phrase, then the next phrase should have "would" (depending on situation). For examples, I can say: New technology could change America's future, but it certainly would not be the best option to choose right now.
    If I choose to use "can", the it should be "will not be the best option". Is it correct?

  9. 5jj's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Will and Would; Can and Could

    Quote Originally Posted by triettran View Post
    So you mean that if I choose to use "could" in one phrase, then the next phrase should have "would" (depending on situation). For examples, I can say: New technology could change America's future, but it certainly would not be the best option to choose right now.
    If I choose to use "can", the it should be "will not be the best option". Is it correct?
    Not necessarily.

    In the examples, 'if that is the case, I will have to get used to it', and 'if that was/were the case I would have to get used to it', the likelihood of the realisation of the situation in the second clause is dependent on the realisation of the first clause. That is why we use the 'real' possibility forms is and will have to in one, and the hypothetical possibility forms was/were and would have to in the other. We cannot mix.

    In your example, there is no such dependency. There may or may not be a certainty of new technology changing America's future. Regardless of this, a real or hypothetical certainty of it being the best option is what the second clause is about.

    It is thus possible to say: New technology could (less certain than 'can) change America's future (at some time) but it will not (this is presented at a certainty) be the best option now.

    This last sentence would be appropriate if the speaker knew that the new technology was definitely going to be introduced.

    It is also possible to say: New technology can (more certain than 'could') change America's future, but it would not be the best option now (if we were, hypothetically, to consider this option).

    The examples I have given are, perhaps, not very likely, but they are possible.

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