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Excuse me for re-posting this question, since I couldn't have sufficient explanations.
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Hi all,

I have a question about the usage of "would."

According to a text book that I have, "would" in the future tense means, in a way, "can't." Is this always correct? Like, if I say, "I'd stay a bit longer," that means, "I can't stay longer."

My idea of "would" is a bit different. I understand the can't-usage. Like, if someone said, "yeah, I'd come to the party tomorrow if my ex-wife was not the host," I'd assume that he can't and won't come to the party.

But I've been using "would" to express my guessing, too, for "I'm not sure but I guess I will." For instance, "I'd complete this project by this weekend,"and what I meant by it is, "I guess I can probably finish the project by this weekend." but never thought that I'm suggesting I can't complete it by this weekend," instead.

Practically, is that largely depending on the contexts? Or "I would" always means "I can't"?

Thanks for your help.
M
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Hi,

I have a question about the usage of "would."

According to a text book that I have, "would" in the future tense means, in a way, "can't." Is this always correct? No. Like, if I say, "I'd stay a bit longer," that means, "I can't stay longer."

My idea of "would" is a bit different. I understand the can't-usage. Like, if someone said, "yeah, I'd come to the party tomorrow if my ex-wife was not the host," I'd assume that he can't and won't come to the party.

But I've been using "would" to express my guessing, too, for "I'm not sure but I guess I will." For instance, "I'd complete this project by this weekend,"and what I meant by it is, "I guess I can probably finish the project by this weekend." but never thought that I'm suggesting I can't complete it by this weekend," instead. You are not using 'would' correctly here. It sounds like you will not complete it. It makes the completion sound hypothetical. It sounds like some condition essential to the project will not be fulfilled. (eg If I had 1,000 people to help me, I would complete the project by this weekend'.)

Practically, is that largely depending on the contexts? Or "I would" always means "I can't"?

Don't think of 'would' as meaning 'can't'.

eg If I were a bird, I would fly to Africa. It's implicit here that I can't fly to Africa, but that's not the primary meaning. The focus is more on the hypothetical nature of the statement.

eg If I liked you, I would come to your party. The focus here is that I won't come to your party because I don't want to. Not because I can't.

eg I would like to borrow $5. This is a polite request. There is no suggestion in these words that I can't, even though your answer may, of course, tell me that I can't.

You will also find some other meanings for 'would' in your dictionary. Some are quite uncommon.

Clive
+1
If it makes you feel better, I've read CalifJim say in other posts that he thinks "would" is among the hardest things to learn in the English language. (Personally, I think articles are the hardest, but I agree that "would" is pretty darn hard!)
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Comments  
mitsuwao23According to a text book that I have, "would" in the future tense means, in a way, "can't."
"in a way". In a very oblique way and only sometimes. In fact, only when context provides a good reason to add "if I could (but I can't)". So would doesn't mean can't. Rather, it only implies it in certain less usual situations.
mitsuwao23Is this always correct?
No. Absolutely not.
mitsuwao23Like, if I say, "I'd stay a bit longer," that means, "I can't stay longer."
This is true only in situations where the speaker can easily infer the meaning "I would stay a bit longer if I could (stay), (but I won't stay because I can't stay)".
mitsuwao23I've been using "would" to express my guessing, too, for "I'm not sure but I guess I will."
This does not strike me as a correct use of would.

CJ
Hi,

Thank you, Clive and CJ, for taking your time.

It seems I've (had?) been using would incorrectly for many years in private and in business (damn!). Would is a very annoying and tricky word for me: it has several uniques usages. But since no one ever pointed out my mistakes, I didn't pay enough attention to the word.

Anyway, thanks for clearing my fog in my brain.
M
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 BarbaraPA's reply was promoted to an answer.
Hi,

Thanks for taking care of my feelings, not only English. Yes, it made my feeling better. For me, prepositions are the hardest, and articles comes next, and "would" to follow.

M