# Would?

•  1

A: I don’t know what language this is. I think Jack would understand it. He is a linguist.

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

EverestCTSAre they second conditional woulds?

I don't see any sensible implied condition.

EverestCTS What kind of would is in sentences A and B?

Probability. Since Jack is a linguist, he should know something about it.

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Persian Learner
EverestCTSAre they second conditional woulds?

I don't see any sensible implied condition.

EverestCTS What kind of would is in sentences A and B?

Probability. Since Jack is a linguist, he should know something about it.

Hi Persian Learner,

Thank you very for your response. Can I say those without “I think” with woulds still being would of probability? For eg.

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

Are sentences A and B still correct with the changes? Are woulds still would of probability?

Some native speakers told me these woulds in the sentences A and B were second conditional with implied conditions, “If you showed this text to Jack, he would understand it.” And “if you asked the question to Jack, he would know the answer to your question.”. I know these are not true conditions meaning the “if clauses” don’t cause “would clauses” to happen. This is why they are not second conditional because the conditions have no impact on the main sentences with “would”. Do you agree?

also,

1: I would say he is a nice person. I don’t think this would in sentence 1 is would of probability. It has the implied condition “if someone asked me about him”. For eg.

I would say he is a nice person if someone asked me about him. Here asking me does cause me to say he is a nice person. It’s a true condition in my opinion. Do you think someone asking me cause me to say? Is it a true conditional? What do you think?

EverestCTS

A: I don’t know what language this is. I think Jack would understand it. He is a linguist.

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".

anonymous
EverestCTS

A: I don’t know what language this is. I think Jack would understand it. He is a linguist.

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.

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EverestCTSIf you showed this text to Jack, he would understand it.

The two clauses feel disconnected from a second-conditional's standpoint unless further context is provided.

He is a linguist so he is likely to know what language it is.

The (forced) if-clause shows that 'showing the text to Jack' is a remote probability, but is it really? Which part of the original sentence tells you that?

Also, there are some dialects that some linguists have not even heard of, so if we take it as a second-condtional as such, the first-conditional counterpart would be:

I think Jack will understand it if you show the text to him.

If you can put it this way, why did you put it in the second conditional? You should provide the necessary context that can justify the use of the second conditional; otherwise, why would you bother with a conditional sentence at all?

The following could be said if the issue of 'asking Jack' or 'Jack seeing the text' is at stake.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a competent linguist; he would help you if you showed him the text.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a very competent linguist; he would understand it if he could have a look at it.

Persian Learner
EverestCTSIf you showed this text to Jack, he would understand it.

The two clauses feel disconnected from a second-conditional's standpoint unless further context is provided.

He is a linguist so he is likely to know what language it is.

The (forced) if-clause shows that 'showing the text to Jack' is a remote probability, but is it really? Which part of the original sentence tells you that?

Also, there are some dialects that some linguists have not even heard of, so if we take it as a second-condtional as such, the first-conditional counterpart would be:

I think Jack will understand it if you show the text to him.

If you can put it this way, why did you put it in the second conditional? You should provide the necessary context that can justify the use of the second conditional; otherwise, why would you bother with a conditional sentence at all?

The following could be said if the issue of 'asking Jack' or 'Jack seeing the text' is at stake.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a competent linguist; he would help you if you showed him the text.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a very competent linguist; he would understand it if he could have a look at it.

Thank you for your response. Are you saying your examples below with “would” are true second conditional? If your examples are second conditional, I don’t know how showing him the text causes him to understand it or how having a look at the text causes him to understand it.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a competent linguist; he would help you if you showed him the text.

I know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a very competent linguist; he would understand it if he could have a look at it.

Also,

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

The woulds in sentence A and B are would of probability, right?

EverestCTSI know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a competent linguist; he would help you if you showed him the text.

This is a true/typical second conditional: your showing him the text would result in his helping you, but the reality is that you will not show him the text. It could also express a polite way of offering advice. I know that you don't have a good relationship with each other, but maybe you will heed my advice and show him the text to help you.

EverestCTSI know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a very competent linguist; he would understand it if he could have a look at it.

'understand' can be taken to mean 'realize' in this context. Jack's seeing the text would result in him realizing the language, (and you getting your answer). You've probably told Jane to describe the script to Jack, but to no avail; He needs to see the actual text. He wouldn't have the ability to realize it without seeing it.

I agree that we normally don't come across stative verbs in typical conditional sentences, and if they do appear, we might need to perform a bit of mental gyration to properly understand whether they are in a causal relationship with the if-clause or not. Personally, I've never come across non-causal conditionals to be dealt with formally in any prestigious grammar book I've consulted so far. But at the end of the day, it's left up to you to decide what is what in the right context.

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Persian Learner
EverestCTSI know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a competent linguist; he would help you if you showed him the text.

This is a true/typical second conditional: your showing him the text would result in his helping you, but the reality is that you will not show him the text. It could also express a polite way of offering advice. I know that you don't have a good relationship with each other, but maybe you will heed my advice and show him the text to help you. So you see 'would' can carry different degrees of probability for different purposes.

EverestCTSI know you're not on speaking terms with Jack, but you know that he is a very competent linguist; he would understand it if he could have a look at it.

'understand' can be taken to mean 'realize' in this context. Jack's seeing the text would result in him realizing the language, (and you getting your answer). He wouldn't have the ability to realize it without seeing it; a tad bit weird?

I agree that we normally don't come across stative verbs in typical conditional sentences, and if they do appear, we might need to perform a bit of mental gyration to properly understand whether they are in a causal relationship with the if-clause or not. Personally, I've never come across non-causal conditionals to be dealt with formally in any prestigious grammar book I've consulted so far. But at the end of the day, it's left up to you to decide what is what in the right context.

Thank you for the reply explanation. Aren’t the woulds in my original sentences below would of probability? Or are they second conditionals?

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