You could answer it.

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joham

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This question is easy. You ____ (should, could) answer it.

We're discussing how to make the choice. Others said the answer was 'should' while I prefer 'could', and my reason is 'could' here is used to make a polite suggestion. Am I right?

Might I ask native English teachers to help me? A thousand thanks.
 

engee30

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This question is easy. You ____ (should, could) answer it.

We're discussing how to make the choice. Others said the answer was 'should' while I prefer 'could', and my reason is 'could' here is used to make a polite suggestion. Am I right?

Might I ask native English teachers to help me? A thousand thanks.

I'm not a native English speaker, but I'd go for should as my initial choice. Should works here as an assumption (bordering on certainty).
:)
 

joham

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I'm not a native English speaker, but I'd go for should as my initial choice. Should works here as an assumption (bordering on certainty).
:)

Hi, engee30. Thanks a lot.

But 'should' sounds to me like the speaker is offering a piece of advice rather than an assumption. As a kind of certainty, I thought we should use 'should be able to answer it'. Well, I'm not sure. What do you think? Perhaps you're right. Let's expect native English teaches to clarify this problem.
 

engee30

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Hi, engee30. Thanks a lot.

But 'should' sounds to me like the speaker is offering a piece of advice rather than an assumption. As a kind of certainty, I thought we should use 'should be able to answer it'. Well, I'm not sure. What do you think? Perhaps you're right. Let's expect native English teaches to clarify this problem.

You see, the preceding sentence, This question is easy, provides me with some context - that's why I feel that You should answer it, or even You should be able to answer it denotes an assumption.

If the preceding sentece read like this, You need to score one more point to pass the test, then I'd go for should once again. But this time the sentence, You should answer it (and NOT You should be able to answer it) indicates a strong suggestion (or a piece of strong advice, if you like).

That's what I think. Let's hope and wait for some natives to share their opinions about it.
:)
 

ScotsMaggie

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Very quick answer is that the use of could suggests that you have a choice-you can answer if you want to. The use of should indicates that this is something you ought to do.
 

Horsa

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In my opinion both could be used depending on the intonation used. They would however have different meanings.

This question is easy. You could answer it. With heavy stress on 'you' this could mean something like 'Even you could answer it and you are no expert.'

This question is easy. You should answer it. This is advice and is probably the intended answer.

:)
 

riverkid

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I'm not a native English speaker, but I'd go for should as my initial choice. Should works here as an assumption (bordering on certainty).
:)

I think that to get this to be an epistemic 'should', Engee, we'd need to add, "be able to".

This question is easy. You should be able to answer it.

Without this addition, I can't see any way that this could be glossed as anything but a deontic 'should' an advice 'should', though I must allow that that doesn't mean that there couldn't be one.

What is it that excludes either deontic or epistemic and yet sometimes allows either reading? :-?
 

engee30

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I think that to get this to be an epistemic 'should', Engee, we'd need to add, "be able to".

This question is easy. You should be able to answer it.

Without this addition, I can't see any way that this could be glossed as anything but a deontic 'should' an advice 'should', though I must allow that that doesn't mean that there couldn't be one.

To me, the difference between using should + verb and using should + be able to + verb is that you just add that form, be able to, to emphasise the ability that you think someone may have to do something. Without the form be able to it's just your expectation or assumption that the event in question will happen:

Oh, you're already in town! So you should get here any moment now. Great! (expectation of an event to happen)
or
Oh, you're already in town! So you should be able to get here any moment now. Great! (expectation that somebody can do something)
:)

What is it that excludes either deontic or epistemic and yet sometimes allows either reading? :-?

That's the thing, you know. :-|
 

riverkid

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To me, the difference between using should + verb and using should + be able to + verb is that you just add that form, be able to, to emphasise the ability that you think someone may have to do something. Without the form be able to it's just your expectation or assumption that the event in question will happen:


It's not quite that simple though, Engee. We don't/can't [?] use 'should' for a "simple expectation or assumption". In order to use 'should' there has to be some personal knowledge or a level of personal experience that will then lead a body to state this level of expectation with 'should'.

For pure speculation we use the semi-modals 'probably/likely'.


Oh, you're already in town! So you should get here any moment now. Great! (expectation of an event to happen)

In your example, above, the person lives in that town and so he/she has a reasonable level of knowledge as to driving times. In the original example,

This question is easy. You ____ (should, could) answer it.

without 'be able to', it just doesn't read as an epistemic 'should'. It can, to my mind, only be glossed/read with a deontic meaning, a meaning denoting advice.


Oh, you're already in town! So you should be able to get here any moment now. Great! (expectation that somebody can do something)

This one, with 'be able to', sounds a weeeeeeee bit odd. More cogitation on this particular one.

###
 

engee30

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So let me make some changes to the sentences, like these:

Bob, we both know how good you are at history. So far you haven't failed any single test in it, so I think there's nothing to be worrying about. I mean it, just look at your grades - they're speaking for themselves! You should pass the next week's history test. No doubt about it!

Isn't it an example of the so-called epistemic use? I do think it is.
:)
 

riverkid

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So let me make some changes to the sentences, like these:

Bob, we both know how good you are at history. So far you haven't failed any single test in it, so I think there's nothing to be worrying about. I mean it, just look at your grades - they ['re] speak [ing] for themselves! You should pass [the] next week's history test. No doubt about it!

Isn't it an example of the so-called epistemic use? I do think it is.
:)

Yes, now it is, Engee. In the original, without this added context, it wasn't an epistemic 'should'. But at the risk of sounding picayune, now the 'should' sounds somewhat weak in with all the highly positive comments.
 

joham

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Yes, now it is, Engee. In the original, without this added context, it wasn't an epistemic 'should'. But at the risk of sounding picayune, now the 'should' sounds somewhat weak in with all the highly positive comments.

Dear RiverKid,
By your last sentence, do you mean, with all the highly positive comments, we should say 'You will pass next week's history test'?

Thanks a lot.
joham
 

riverkid

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Dear RiverKid,
By your last sentence, do you mean, with all the highly positive comments, we should say 'You will pass next week's history test'?

Thanks a lot.
joham

To me, it sounded a wee bit weak, Joham, but it's impossible for me to say what would or should be said by any given speaker. The use of modals reflects a highly personal decision. That's what modals are for, to let us express our opinions or show some other notion/idea.

One speaker could say, "You're going to pass", another, "You'll pass", another even "You might pass", "There's a miniscule chance you'll pass", said in a fashion that shows the speaker is being facetious/is joking.
 
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