+0

A: I don’t know what language this is. I think Jack would understand it. He is a linguist.
B: I think Jack would know the answer of your question. You should ask him.

Are they second conditional woulds? What kind of would is in sentence A and B?

1 2 3
Comments  (Page 2) 
EverestCTSAren’t the woulds in my original sentences below would of probability? Or are they second conditionals?

Would of 'probability', as they stand.

My first interpretation of 'would' in the given sentences is 'most likely/very likely'.

He is very likely to know the answer.

You could use second conditionals to offer advice politely:

A: Jack is a linguist. He would help you if you asked him. ~ (Why don't you ask Jack?)

B: Great! Is he available on WhatsApp?

But this just borrows the second-conditional structure for politeness.

At any rate, 'would' expresses a distance from reality; the context should tell us how distant it is.

The second conditional sentences also use this property of 'would' to express improbable/hypothetical conditions. But it's still about probability! Some conditions can only be imagined to be met in your mind! Some of them are unlikely but possible, and some are used in an artificial way, like in offering advice or polite requests. Degrees of probability/possibility could also differ in the if-clauses:

If I were you, ...

If he was alive, ...

If he was in Poland, ...

If you did a PhD degree, ...

If you you went to Turkey, ...

If you helped your brother, ...

If you asked him, ...


However, what is common among all uses of 'would' is taking distance from reality to create a desired sense. If it is used for politeness or willingness, it is still dealing with this taking distance from reality to produce those effects. Let context tell you what degree of probability it carries instead of taking a magnifier looking for implied if-clauses; when an if-clause is implied, it is implicitly yelling at you that it's there, and then there's no need for unearthing it!

Persian Learner
EverestCTSAren’t the woulds in my original sentences below would of probability? Or are they second conditionals?

Would of 'probability', as they stand.

My first interpretation of 'would' in the given sentences is 'most likely/very likely'.

He is very likely to know the answer.

Thank you very much for the detailed explanation. I have one last follow up question.

A: I don’t know what language this text is. Jack would understand it. He is a linguist. I will ask him.
It means Jack is the person who is likely to understand the text, right?


B: Jack would know the answer to your question. You should ask him.
You already said it means Jack is the person who is likely to know the answer to the question.

When you have would of probability in sentences, do you get any sense of conditional mood at all in your mind as you say these sentences with would of probability?

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Please check this sentence.

A: I don’t know what language this text is in. Jack would understand it. He is a linguist. I will ask him.


Just to make sure, the sentence A is correct with would of probability and “Jack would understand it” means Jack is the person who is likely to understand the text, right?


I apologize if my questions are repeated. I saw that you didn’t comment on sentence A, so I had to ask questions just to make sure I understand the sentence correctly.

EverestCTSIt means Jack is the person who is likely to understand the text, right?

Yes, since he is a linguist, he is very likely to know what language it is. Obviously, he's more likely to know it than a random non-linguist.

EverestCTSB: Jack would know the answer to your question. You should ask him. You already said it means Jack is the person who is likely to know the answer to the question.

Yes, you don't want to sound too certain in that statement. She may ask Jack but he may not know the answer to her question, though in all likelihood he will know it.

EverestCTSJust to make sure, the sentence A is correct with would of probability and “Jack would understand it” means Jack is the person who is likely to understand the text, right?

Yes, since he is a linguist, he is very likely to understand what language it is.

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.

When you use would of probability in sentences, do you get any sense of conditional mood at all in your mind as you say these sentences with would of probability? Or not at all?

EverestCTSWhen you use would of probability in sentences, do you get any sense of conditional mood at all in your mind as you say these sentences with would of probability? Or not at all?

It's not until the context calling for a conditional that I start to consider it.

EverestCTS
anonymous
EverestCTS

A: I don’t know what language this is. I think Jack would understand it. He is a linguist.
B: I think Jack would know the answer of your question. You should ask him.

Are they second conditional woulds? What kind of would is in sentence A and B?

Yes: the condition is implicit, and is inferrable from the context.

I think Jack would understand it / know the answer is interpreted as "I think Jack would understand it / know the answer if you asked him".

So you are saying Jack’s understanding it or knowing the answer are conditional to your asking him? Doesn’t it make no sense? He understands something or knows something regardless of whether you ask him or not.


No, of course not.

If we simply wanted to express the fact that Jack knows something, we could just say "Jack understands it". But the addition of the word "would" adds an additional component of meaning.

"Would" is a past tense modal verb that has three uses: past time, backshift and modal remoteness.

Modal remoteness is typically expressed in conditionals, such as "We'd save a lot of money if you would cycle to work".

Examples like yours are a special case, one where the condition is not overtly stated but is implicit.



Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
anonymous
EverestCTS
anonymous

No, of course not.

If we simply wanted to express the fact that Jack knows something, we could just say "Jack understands it". But the addition of the word "would" adds an additional component of meaning.

"Would" is a past tense modal verb that has three uses: past time, backshift and modal remoteness.

Modal remoteness is typically expressed in conditionals, such as "We'd save a lot of money if you would cycle to work".

Examples like yours are a special case, one where the condition is not overtly stated but is implicit.

It seems like you disagree with Persian Learner. They are would of probability, not conditional.

Show more