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    #1

    usage of would

    Hi forum!

    The first spate of violence between Muslims and Christians began in Jos, Nigeria, and would end in more than 200 deaths.

    Why does the writer of this sentence use would? What's the difference in meaning when compared to a sentence like the following:

    The first spate of violence between Muslims and Christians began in Jos, Nigeria, and ended with 200 people being killed.

    Do you use would often this way (for the native speakers)?

    Thanks in advance!

    Ps.: taken from wikipedia (17.01.12): Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    #2

    Re: usage of would

    Quote Originally Posted by virus99 View Post

    The first spate of violence between Muslims and Christians began in Jos, Nigeria, and would end in more than 200 deaths.



    The first spate of violence between Muslims and Christians began in Jos, Nigeria, and ended with 200 people being killed.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    (1) Great question!

    (2) I, too, am waiting for the answer.

    (3) May I just add these little points while you and I are waiting:

    (a) Yes, if my readings are any gauge, this use of "would" is very common.

    (b) You really raised an important point.

    (i) Someone many years ago in The Times Literary Supplement (which is

    considered the most erudite book review in the world) said this use of "would"

    was absurd. He said that if a writer used "would," then that meant the writer was

    present at the time of the event and that s/he was able to predict the future. In other

    words, was the writer in Jos? If s/he was, how did s/he know at the time that it

    "would" end in 200 deaths? If the writer is writing after the deaths of the 200 people,

    then "good, clear" English calls for "ended."

    (4) I am sure that other posters will explain to us why "would" is not only common

    but also correct English.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: usage of would

    This is an example of a future in the past. At the time of the Jos incidents, the total of 200 deaths was still in the future. But, seen from the present standpoint, that future is now past, so we do not use 'will' (which would imply that the deaths are yet to come). but 'would'. This usage is, in my opinion, rather literary; it is not very common. Your version with 'ended' is more likely to be seen/heard.

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