English as a Second Language/use of would

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Question
In which meaning and tense 'would' is used in the following sentences:

For example,

1. That would be Ram calling. I'll answer it.( the meaning of would and in which tense its used here ?)

2. "The guy on the phone had southern accent."
"That would be Tom."
(the meaning of would and in which tense would is used? Can we use other modals in the place of would ?)

3."We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning."
"Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers." (the meaning of would and in which tense its used here? ,does meaning change if i say " They may/might/could/must have been looking.........robbers.)

4.You would have to say/do that. (why would is used here ? What happens in meaning, if 'would' is removed?)

5.john said he didn't steal money.| well, he would, wouldn't he ? (why would is used here an in what sense?)

Why 'would' is used in those 1,2,3 sentences to mean "presumption" instead of using other 'must', 'may', 'could', or 'might'? Can we use 'may', 'might', and 'could', 'must' in the place of 'would' without changing the meaning of sentences ? I'd be greatfull if you could answer me. Thanks in advance.

Answer
Hello Yubraj,

and thank you for your question.

1. That would be Ram calling. I'll answer it.( the meaning of would and in which tense its used here ?)

2. "The guy on the phone had southern accent."
"That would be Tom."
(the meaning of would and in which tense would is used? Can we use other modals in the place of would ?)

3."We saw a police helicopter overhead yesterday morning."
"Really? They would have been looking for those bank robbers." (the meaning of would and in which tense its used here? ,does meaning change if i say " They may/might/could/must have been looking.........robbers.)

In the three examples above "would" is used to express presumption or expectation.

#2, 3 no substitutions for "would"

4.You would have to say/do that. (why would is used here ? What happens in meaning, if 'would' is removed?)

I'd need more context to be able to answer this.

5. John said he didn't steal money. Well, he would, wouldn't he ? (why would is used here an in what sense?) This is most likely incorrect.

It should read: John said he didn't steal money. Well, he did, didn't he ?

If this is part of a paragraph, please get back to me and include the entire paragraph.



Why 'would' is used in those 1,2,3 sentences to mean "presumption" instead of using other 'must', 'may', 'could', or 'might'? Because must, may, could or might aren't used to express presumption or expectation.

Can we use 'may', 'might', and 'could', 'must' in the place of 'would' without changing the meaning of sentences ? No.

For more info on the proper uses of "would" try this site:

https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modal-would.htm

Also all modals are discussed here:

https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modals.htm

I hope the above helps.

Best,

~Amy  

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

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BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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