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The car didn't start.

The car wouldn't start.

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I see very little difference between the two sentences. They're both ok.

That said, I'd be more likely to use the second if I made every effort to start the car but it still won't start.

In this sense, "wouldn't start" means "refused to start" and is more evident when used with people than with inanimate objects.

She wouldn't give me any money. (= she refused to give me any money)

She didn't give any money. (for whatever reasons)
wangqh2696122The car didn't start.
The car wouldn't start.
Just my passing two cents....

Even though we hear people say this a lot, they are actually logically incorrect.

Technically, no matter how much current technology is built in, a car can't start on its own without any human activation, meaning either to get the engine started by the traditional keyed ignition, Start-swithch ignition, or the latest luxury option: remote ignition. Therefore, to logially describe a car having engine problem, only the following scenarios are true:
I can't get the engine to turn over/ start.
I can't start the engine.
My car is dead.
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dimsumexpress
wangqh2696122The car didn't start.The car wouldn't start.
Just my passing two cents..Even though we hear people say this a lot, they are actually logically incorrect.Technically, no matter how much current technology is built in, a car can't start on its own without any human activation, meaning either to get the engine started by the traditional keyed ignition, Start-swithch ignition, or the latest luxury option: remote ignition. Therefore, to logially describe a car having engine problem, only the following scenarios are true:I can't get the engine to turn over/ start.I can't start the engine.My car is dead.
So, you take things literally enough to object to "the car wouldn't start" (because a car can't start on its own), but "the car is dead" doesn't bother you (even though the car was never alive)?? It seems inconsistent.
Hi,

Logic is logic, and language is language.

If your point is that a car is an inanimate object, how can you logically say 'My car is dead'? Emotion: smile

Clive
Hey, Clive -- I guess great minds think alike ... and so do ours! Emotion: wink
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Thanks guys for the responding comments.

I know this view is not a popular one and I'd draw fire. My comment was "technically..." and I wasn't arguing about the grammatical aspect, and I reckoned people say that a lot. Perhaps this logic came from working years in the engineering profession. In my opinion, all man-made creations are inaminate. By design, human give them life. Is this logic acceptable ? If so, then when we insert the key into the ignition and turn it, and the engine starts, the car is alive /energized. When there is no reaction, it's said to be "dead". I know we can say " the toilet won't flush" to suggest that when I push the level there is no water coming out of the tank. I agree, logic is logic, language is language. I was just trying to make a point. There are plenty of examples in the opposite spectrum where we'd make the same argument about an inanimate not being to act on its own. Coming from a learner's point of view, I think one needs to know the distinction. That's all I was trying say.
wangqh2696122The car didn't start.
The car failed to start when (someone) tried to start it. (This is a very matter-of-fact, neutral statement.)
wangqh2696122The car wouldn't start.
The car failed again and again to start when (someone) tried again and again to start it. The car "refused" to start. The car was "stubborn" and "uncooperative"!

Obviously, wouldn't creates a stronger (and perhaps more amusing) image than didn't. Emotion: smile
_____________

A mechanic working on the car might perform tests on it to see if it starts under certain conditions. He might report the test results thus: "The car started." "The car didn't start."

A man already late for work and in a hurry might report his frustration thus: "The car wouldn't start."

CJ
Hi,

Actually, I've rarely or never heard anyone say 'My car is dead'.

What I do hear a lot is 'My battery is dead'. Perhaps because we equate electrical energy more closely with the idea of 'alive'. That's why we say eg 'Don't touch that wire, it's live!'Emotion: angry

Clive
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