Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow?
John: I probably will.

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? 
John: I would.

Does the answer 'probably will' equal to 'would'?
If not, what's the difference?

Original Post

Hello, Wemcho, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

Does the answer 'probably will' equal to 'would'?

That's an interesting question, but please note that "equal" is an adjective above, so you should have used the verb "be": Is 'probably will' equal to 'would'?

My answer is that they are similar. However, since the question uses "would," we would normally answer with the same auxiliary. If we forget about the question, I'd say there is a slight difference between "I probably will" and "I would." While the former expresses a certain probability, the latter seems to be subject to some implicit condition.

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? 
John: I would (that is, if I didn't have another appointment, or if you had invited me earlier).

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? 
John: I would (that is, if I didn't have another appointment, or if you had invited me earlier).

#1.  I would, if i didn't have another appointment.
Does it mean 'I have another appointment, so I can't come'? 

#2.  I would, if you had invited me earlier.
Does it imply 'You didn't invited me earlier, so I can't come because I didn't know you'd be having a party and I already have another appointment"? 

#3.  Helen: The guy on the phone had a Southern accent.
        John: That would be Tom.
Is John's answer equal to 'That could have been Tom'?

In answer to #1 and #2, "would" may but does not necessarily imply that there's an unfulfilled condition preventing John from actually going to the party.

If somebody responded to an invitation of mine saying "I would," I'd reinforce the question and ask: "Ok, will you come or not?"

#3.  Helen: The guy on the phone had a Southern accent.
        John: That would be Tom.
Is John's answer equal to 'That could have been Tom'?

I would have used: That must have been Tom.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

I would have used: That must have been Tom.

The #3 example is an altered version from: https://dictionary.cambridge.o...ionary/english/would

It's very confusing to use 'That would be Tom', as opposed to your version of 'That must have been Tom'.

But since the dictionary has adopted that example, I think the editor must have had a reason. So to your native ears, what does 'That would be Tom' mean or imply in that dialogue?

So to your native ears, what does 'That would be Tom' mean or imply in that dialogue?

I'm not a native speaker, only a teacher and translator with almost 40 years' experience. In my view, "That would be Tom" is a backshifted version of "That will be Tom." Compare:

A: This guy on the phone has a strong Southern accent.
B: That will be John.

A: That guy on the phone had a strong Southern accent.
B: That would be John.

"must have been" expresses a present deduction about a past occurrence. I merely proposed it as a better alternative to your "could have been."

What do you think about this use of "would," David or DocV?

Gustavo, Contributor posted:
In my view, "That would be Tom" is a backshifted version of "That will be Tom." Compare:

A: This guy on the phone has a strong Southern accent.
B: That will be John.

A: That guy on the phone had a strong Southern accent.
B: That would be John.

[. . .]

What do you think about this use of "would," David or DocV?

I agree with your analysis, Gustavo. I, too, analyze that use of "would" as a backshifted version of the related construction with "will."

Wemcho posted:

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow?
John: I probably will.

Helen: Would you attend my party tomorrow? 
John: I would.

Does the answer 'probably will' equal to 'would'?
If not, what's the difference?

Welcome to the Grammar Exchange, Wemcho! Each of those conversational exchanges sounds rather strange to me as a native speaker. Do you mean for the question "Would you attend my party tomorrow?" to function as a question about the speaker's intentions or as an invitation?

The normal native use of "Would you come to my party tomorrow?" is as an invitation. (This is not to deny that a conditional use is possible: "Would you come to my party tomorrow [if you didn't have to babysit your sister]?") If the question is an invitation, one natural affirmative reply would be: "I'd be delighted to."

If you mean for "Would you attend my party tomorrow?" to function as a question about the speaker's present intentions, then it would be more natural to state the question this way: "Are you going to come to my party tomorrow?" You could also say: "Are you coming to my party tomorrow?"

In the movie 40 Carats (1973), Liv Ullman's character Ann finds herself in love with a much younger man, Peter, portrayed by Edward Albert.  When she meets Peter's parents, they are very judgemental and subject her to some very hostile criticism.  As she is trying to absorb all of this, the doorbell rings and Peter's father says "That will be Peter.".  He is certain of the fact.  Otherwise, he might have said "That may be Peter.", or something similar.

For what it's worth.

DocV

Doc V posted:
 

"That will be Peter".  He is certain of the fact.  

Thank you guys. You are doing a fantastic job helping the English learners.

As to the tricky 'will, would, will have, would have', I have another question:

#4 It is five o'clock now. Peter will have finished his homework.
I'd think it expresses the speaker's certainty that Peter has finished the homework, as he knows Peter always finishes it before five o'clock.

#5 It is five o'clock now. Peter would have finished his homework.
I know we can use 'might have' or 'could have' to express possibility, but with 'would have', is it still grammatical? Does it mean the speaker is less certain about the reality when using 'would have' than 'will have'?

This is an interesting question.  My take on it is that, yes, (#5) is grammatical, but rather than uncertainty, as you suggest, "would have" implies a contrary-to-fact situation to me.  Consider these interpretations:

5a: It's five o'clock.  Darrell is still working on his homework, but if it had been Peter that we were watching, he would have finished it by now.

5b: It's five o'clock.  Something must be wrong with Peter.  Ordinarily, he would have finished his homework by now.

DocV

I agree with DocV as to the counterfactual interpretation of "would have." The only case in which "would have" could be used for deduction would be if the situation were set in the past:

#6 It was five o'clock. Peter would have finished his homework (by that time).

Thank you guys. You are doing a fantastic job helping the English learners.

Thank you, Wemcho. This kind of comments helps us carry on.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

#6 It was five o'clock. Peter would have finished his homework (by that time).

#7 It was five o'clock. Sooner or later Peter would have finished his homework.

#8 It is five o'clock now. Sooner or later Peter would have finished his homework.

Thank you guys. Now I get what #4, #5 and #6 really mean. But what if I make a slight change as in #7 and #8 by adding "sooner or later"? Honestly, I don't know whether my version of these sentences make sense, though I do hear a lot of structures using "would have" together with "sooner or later".

Should they make sense, please interpret the meaning of each. 

Wemcho,

I think that with a present tense verb in the first sentence, as you have in (#8), I would want to see either a future tense verb or something akin to a conditional in the second sentence.

8a: It's five o'clock now.  Sooner or later, Peter will finish his homework.
8b: It's five o'clock now.  Sooner or later, Peter must finish his homework.

By the way, Gustavo, thanks for your support in your earlier post.  You make an interesting point with (#6).

DocV

Hi

Can you please explain "would"?
"For example, let us see how a recursion tree would provide a good guess for the recurrence T[n]= 3T[n/4] + theta(n2) We start by focusing on finding an upper bound for the solution. "

From: Introduction to Algorithms by CLRS"

 

Tara,

With all respect to the authors of your mathematical text, I don't like "would" in this sentence.  I would prefer "how a recursion tree provides a good guess", "how a recursion tree might provide a good guess", or "how a recursion tree can provide a good guess", all of which indicate actual fact or possibility.  In contrast, "how a recursion tree would provide a good guess" suggests a situation contrary to fact.

DocV

Tara,

I received an e-mail notification that you had made another post on this thread that was specifically directed to me, but I'm not seeing it.  Has it been deleted?  According to the e-mail, it had to do with the Strassen algorithm.

I'm wondering if I have overemphasized the contrary-to-fact usage of "would" (or more specifically, "would have").  It certainly can mean other things.

DocV

Doc V posted:

Tara,

I received an e-mail notification that you had made another post on this thread that was specifically directed to me, but I'm not seeing it.  Has it been deleted?  According to the e-mail, it had to do with the Strassen algorithm.

I'm wondering if I have overemphasized the contrary-to-fact usage of "would" (or more specifically, "would have").  It certainly can mean other things.

DocV

Sorry DocV, I deleted that post

Can you please explain "would"?

 

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Tara,

You wrote:

Sorry DocV can you please explain this 'would'?

9: How would you modify Strassen’s algorithm to multiply n * n matrices in which n is not an exact power of 2?

(We've already used index numbers 1 through 8 in this thread.)

A more generalized version of that question could be expressed as:

9a: If you needed to change this thing to make it work for this other purpose, how would you go about doing so?

The word "would" still expresses a strong suggestion of the counterfactual.  "You haven't done this, and I'm not suggesting that you ever you ever will or should, but if you were going to do so, how would you do it?"

Unlike the "would have" examples, which tend to suggest that some thing that might have happened didn't, the simple "would" can include future choices of action.  We tend to think of the past as something that can't be changed, but the future as something that we can still direct the course of.

DocV

 

Doc V posted:

 

The word "would" still expresses a strong suggestion of the counterfactual.  "You haven't done this, and I'm not suggesting that you ever you ever will or should, but if you were going to do so, how would you do it?"

DocV

 

Thank you so much DocV

But the question want us to do that not "if we were going to do"?

#10. If someone was captured by the cops, where would they be taken?

I'd like to give my analysis of #10 sentence which contains no further context, and I hope to get your correction if I'm mistaken.

(a) Currently nobody has been captured by the cops, so the speaker is imagining the situation when someone gets captured, which is counter-factual.

(b) Someone might have been captured by the cops, and the speaker is looking for "someone". The word "would" here is just a back-shifted version of "will".  

Tara,

You wrote:

But the question want us to do that not "if we were going to do"?

I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I understand the question.

Wemcho,

If you don't mind, I'm going to refer to your analyses of (#10) as (10a) and (10b), just as I suggested alternate versions (5a) and (5b) for your (#5) and (8a) and (b) for your (8).  This will make things easier to follow who read or add to this thread in the future.

Since the (10a) interpretation is specifically counterfactual, it really needs to have the subjunctive "were" instead of "was" in the "if" clause.

I think (10b) might technically be a valid interpretation of (#10), but I'm vaguely uneasy with it.  I would much prefer to say something like:

10b-1: If someone got captured by the cops, where would they take him?
10b-2: When someone gets captured by the cops, where do they take him?

I prefer the use "him" instead of "them" to refer to "someone" here.

First, if, as you say in (10b), the speaker is looking for a specific "someone", that that person's gender must be known.  If the speaker is looking for a woman, the question should be:

10b-2: When a woman gets captured by the cops, where do they take her?

It is important to use a gender-specific pronoun here, since the vast majority of people that are "captured by the cops" are men (at least in this country).  Unless the gender is specified, the person answering the question will probably assume the "someone" is a man, and women are quite likely to be taken to a different place.

Also, in the original (#10), there are two possible antecedents for "they": "someone" and "cops".  Since "they" is inherently plural, it is natural for the speaker to be understood to be asking where the cops are taken.

DocV

Doc V posted:

Tara,

You wrote:

But the question want us to do that not "if we were going to do"?

I'm sorry, but I'm not sure I understand the question.

You said "You haven't done this, and I'm not suggesting that you ever you ever will or should, but if you were going to do so, how would you do it?" but the question want or suggests  us to do that  we really should do that not if we were going to do. How can it be hypothetical?

(I can't write better)  

 

 

 

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