would or should

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Cicily21

Junior Member
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Jun 30, 2004
Dear All,

Which one should we choose and why?

If he ___ come late, give him the message.
(1) should
(2) would

I consider that both are correct, because first of all, if we consider the sentence as a subjunctive mood and for the future-unreal, then according to grammatical rules, we should use "should".

However, why we cannot use "would"? I read a grammatical rule which says that if we talk about something uncertain in the future, we should substitute "would" for "will", so in this case, it seems reasonable to use "would", too.

So, which one will you choose and why?
Thanks a lot for your kind assistance.

Best Regards,
Cicily :turn-l:
 

Mister Micawber

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'Should' is the answer, and the sentence is merely conditional, not subjunctive.

'Would' in an uncertain or improbable future would appear in the 'then'-clause, not the 'if'-clause: 'If he came late, I would give it to him'.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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You wouldn't use 'would' in the if- clause. 'Should' is used to reduce the likelihood of the event.;-)
 
W

wunaide

Guest
Which one should we choose and why?

What a strange question.

you could set a condition for the implementation of a certain action with

if he should come late, give him the message (cond.),

which is really just a verbose version of

if he comes late, give him the message (cond.),

or you could hypothesise with

If he were to come late, you would give him the message (subjunct.)
 
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