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    #1

    will/would for speculation about the past

    I have a question about the use of the modals will/would for speculation about the past. I have found the following examples, but cannot decide what is the difference between would + present infinitive and will/would + past infinitive:

    She would be sixty when she died
    vs
    That will/would have been Ted you saw - he's seven feet tall.

    Andrea


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    #2

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    Andrea
    The difference is:
    She would have been sixty when she died
    That would have been Ted you saw he's seven feet tall
    regards

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    #3

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    Welcome, Andrea.

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    #4

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    Thanks John for your opinion. I understand you wouldn't naturally say "She would be sixty when she died", but rather "She would have been". (By the way, I am pretty sure I found that example in the Oxford dictionary of contemporary English). Cheers. Andrea

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    #5

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    Andrea, could you give us the context on this?

    EX: She would be sixty when she died.

    That is, what does ODCE say about its usage and meaning?

    Here's something of interest:

    That will have been Ted. <in all likelihood, certainty>
    That would have been Ted. <presume>

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    #6

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    I've found it! It was in the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English (1985 impression).
    Under the entry WILL at number 7 you read: "used to indicate probability or likelihood. This'll be the book you're looking for, I think. She would be about 60 when she died. I want someone to do a lot of typing for me. Will/would I do? =Am I likely to be suitable for the job?"
    Bye,
    Andrea

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    #7

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    The other examples I agree with, but "She would be sixty when she died" just doesn't fit into my North American dialect. It sounds rather odd to my ears.

    I wonder if it's a matter of dialect variation?

    I wish I could have been more helpful, Licino. Sorry.

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    #8

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    You HAVE been helpful! Thank you for taking the time to look into the matter with care... It's good to know this usage is not acceptable in your variety of English, and in some way I am reassured because I couldn't explain it to myself grammatically or logically. Bye. Andrea

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    #9

    Re: will/would for speculation about the past

    You're most welcome, Andrea.

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