[Grammar] Another way of saying 'on target' would be 'on goal'

Kontol

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Could you explain how "would" works in this sentence?

Q: What does "register" mean in football? United failed to register a shot on target.
A: To register a shot on target means to have a shot on target. In this example, United have not troubled the keeper - they have not had any shots on target. Another way of saying 'on target' would be 'on goal' - the team did not register a shot on goal.

Here the second speaker uses "would", could you tell me what it means?
 

SoothingDave

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If you asked me for another way to say it, then I would say "on goal."

The meaning here is the same as if they had written "Another way of saying 'on target' is 'on goal.'"
 

Kontol

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Thank you. Why does the second speaker choose to use "would" instead of "is"?
 

Tdol

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Because the standard way of saying it is on target, so the speaker is suggesting an alternative meaning, but prefers the original- it means on goal, but say on target. (Not a football follower)
 

Kontol

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I'm still confused. Then, what is the difference between "is" and "would" in the sentence? I often see a native speaker say "Another alternative"/"One possibility would be to...

Does "would" sound more tentative? In other words, the speaker is not sure about another way of saying the word. While "is" sounds certain, in other words the speaker is sure that the words is the only one possible.
 

emsr2d2

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No, "would be" doesn't sound more tentative that "is" in this context. It's simply what the speaker chose to say. I truly can't explain why we sometimes use "would be" instead of "is/are" but we do!

Helen: Who's that guy standing in the corner?
Jim: That would be my brother!

Pete: What's another way of saying "on target"?
Sarah: Another way would be "on goal".

It's almost a hypothetical (in the second example) - like saying "If I had to find an alternative, I would say ...".
 

jutfrank

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I think the best way of explaining this, as others have mentioned, is simply that there's some sense of a hypothetical.

Either we imagine a different reality where another way of saying something is used (in the sense that X is what actually was used in reality whereas Y is what could hypothetically be used) or, as SoothingDave and emsr2d2 suggest, we imagine being asked to find an alternative way of saying something. I think the former.
 
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Kontol

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Thanks a lot for the answer. My grammar book explains "would" differently that it is used to cast doubt on a statement. This may be meant in a tentative epistemic sense. "Would" may be meant something like this "It is not very clear, but it seems likely to me...This interpretation is not conditional because there is no implied condition.

So, in the sentence "another way of saying 'on target' would be 'on goal', this interepretation is not conditional because there is no implied condition. it’s not helpful to think of an if-clause here. It’s not really relevant. So, "would" here means it is not very clear, but it seems likely to me that anther way of saying "on target" is "on goal".

Is that right?
 

jutfrank

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My grammar book explains "would" differently that it is used to cast doubt on a statement. This may be meant in a tentative epistemic sense. "Would" may be meant something like this "It is not very clear, but it seems likely to me...This interpretation is not conditional because there is no implied condition.

Yes, all that is true but that's not the case in this particular example. This is a different use and meaning.

So, in the sentence "another way of saying 'on target' would be 'on goal', this interepretation is not conditional because there is no implied condition. it’s not helpful to think of an if-clause here. It’s not really relevant. So, "would" here means it is not very clear, but it seems likely to me that anther way of saying "on target" is "on goal".

Is that right?

No. As I said, this is a different use. I know it's difficult to think of this use as conditional, since there's no obvious condition being proposed. This is why I suggest you focus on the sense of hypotheticality rather than a sense of condition.
 

Kontol

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Thank you for the explanation. How about the following? Does "would" sound tentative?

Q:: is this sentence right? "What did you want to be when you were an adult?"
A: The more natural question would be "What did you want to be when you grew up?

Another example:

I think the best answer would be X.

I often see "would" uaed like this. Could you also explain?.
 

Tarheel

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I know that I have done it myself. However, if I thought someone would ask me to explain it I might have thought twice before phrasing things that way. I think it's about nuance. It's also about how much typing I want to do. :-D

We rarely spend that much time selecting our words--especially in speech.
 

SoothingDave

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No, it's not tentative. It's hypothetical, as justfrank has explained.
 

Kontol

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Thanks a lot for the answer. How does "would" work in this sentence? Why does the second speaker use "would" rather than "is?"
Q: I've got a doubt concerning a statement to talk about the future. Do we say "the best student will win a prize" or "the best student is winning a prize?"

A: The correct fom here would be "will win". You would say "is winning" when you are describing the present - i.e. when you are watching the prize-giving ceremony.
 

jutfrank

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Thank you for the explanation. How about the following? Does "would" sound tentative?

Q:: is this sentence right? "What did you want to be when you were an adult?"
A: The more natural question would be "What did you want to be when you grew up?

No. This sounds like the same kind of would as the other example.

Another example:

I think the best answer would be X.

Possibly but probably not. There's not enough context here to say for sure.

Here's a couple of clear examples of tentative would. This is the kind of thing I and other members of this forum do all the time to distance ourselves from our answers when we're not completely confident:

Q: Is this sentence grammatical?
A: I'd say it is, yes.

Q: Why is it that ...?
A: I'd guess that it's because ...
 

Kontol

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Hello, Jutfrank. So, in the example sentence "the more natural question would be...", here do you mean "would" is hypothetical?
 

jutfrank

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Yes. We imagine a hypothetical reality, where a more natural question is used.
 

Kontol

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How about the following? What does "would" actually mean?

Q: I think “through” needs an object here. Does the commentator drop it?
Massive chance goes begging for Toure, who bursts through, but drags his shot inches wide of the far post!

A: In this sentence the commentator does drop the object about through. The full sentence would be Massive chance goes begging for Toure, who bursts through the defence, but drags his shot inches wide of the far post.
 

Tdol

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You can just say bursts through. It can take an object, but you don't need it here. The full sentence would probably start with and indefinite article.
 

Kontol

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Hi, Tdol. The second speaker uses "would", could you tell me how "would" works in the sententece?
 

emsr2d2

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Hi, Tdol. The second speaker uses "would". Could you tell me how "would" works in the sententece sentence?

It's akin to a hypothetical.

If we were to write out the full sentence, it would be ...
 
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