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Why is it that when 'would' is used as the past tense of 'will' it is rarely found in the main clause and instead is usually (always?) found in subordinate clauses (often in indirect speech)?

Is this below an exception?

He was an evil man. He would kill again.

Thanks
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English 1b3Why is it that when 'would' is used as the past tense of 'will' it is rarely found in the main clause and instead is usually (always?) found in subordinate clauses (often in indirect speech)?
In the past, you also have the choice of "used to" instead of "would", and "used to" is probably more common. Maybe that's why you haven't seen "would" as much in that context. "would" as past of "will' is certainly not found only in subordinate clauses.

In your example sentence, "would" is the past of "will" in the sense that it is the future of the past, not in the sense that it is a indicator of habit.

Sally is so talkative. She'll (She will) go on and on for hours without stopping. [She does go on and on. Habit (or characteristic behavior) in the present.]

Sally was so talkative. She'd (She would) go on and on for hours without stopping. [She used to go on and on. Habit (or characteristic behavior) in the past.]

Note the difference:

Jake is evil. He will kill again. [He is going to kill again. Prediction in the present, which may or may not come true.]

Jake was evil. He would kill again. [He was going to kill again. Prediction in the past, which we now know came true.]

CJ
CalifJimwould" is the past of "will" in the sense that it is the future of the past, not in the sense that it is a indicator of habit.
Sorry, that's the use of would I'm referring to: the future of the past, and not a past habit.

1) Why is it that it is rarely seen in main clauses?
CalifJim
Jake was evil. He would kill again. [He was going to kill again. Prediction in the past, which we now know came true.]

This confuses me.

2) How can we know it will come true? In the time of reading, it is in the past (Jake was evil) and he in the future of the past will kill--it's still in the future, so how do we know it's going to happen?

Thank you again
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English 1b31) Why is it that it is rarely seen in main clauses?
Because it's rare that the situation arises in which we want to tell a story that contains this time relationship (or that we want to express it that way).
English 1b3In the time of reading, it is in the past (Jake was evil) and he in the future of the past will kill--it's still in the future, so how do we know it's going to happen?
We don't. The speaker does. Anyway, it's not a matter of "It is going to happen", but a matter of "It was going to happen".

Jake killed three men. Then he killed again. [This tells the story in the order in which it occurred. Both situations occurred in the past. Our attention is focused first on the killing of three men. Then our attention moves to the next killing.]

Jake killed three men. And he would kill again. [This tells the story as if we were located at a time after the first three killings, but before any further killings. Our attention is focused on this in-between period. So, without moving our attention to the next period of time, the speaker tells us that Jake killed again, or more exactly, that he was going to kill again. The speaker knows the whole story.]

This use of "would" is just about the same as "was/were going to".

Compare:

In the early 1900's Einstein was just beginning to develop his theory of relativity. Later he would become famous for it.

CJ
CalifJim
Jake killed three men. And he would kill again. [This tells the story as if we were located at a time after the first three killings, but before any further killings. Our attention is focused on this in-between period. So, without moving our attention to the next period of time, the speaker tells us that Jake killed again, or more exactly, that he was going to kill again. The speaker knows the whole story.]

[H]

Great answer! This 'in-between' period created by the use of would in the future of the past is exactly what confused me. Now, it is clear!
CalifJim
In the early 1900's Einstein was just beginning to develop his theory of relativity. Later he would become famous for it.

'would become' is used here for the same reason, correct? It is an alternative to below which takes the reader from one event in the past to the next..

When would the author want to express this in-between period?

In the early 1900's Einstein was beginning to develop his theory of relativity. Later, he became famous for it.
English 1b3'would become' is used here for the same reason, correct? It is an alternative to below which takes the reader from one event in the past to the next. ...
In the early 1900's Einstein was beginning to develop his theory of relativity. Later, he became famous for it.Yes.
English 1b3When would the author want to express this in-between period?
... when he wants to concentrate on the events of a certain period only, and not events that happened after then.

For example, in a biography the author may have a separate chapter on each period in the life of some famous person. Suppose that in Chapter 3 he is discussing the years in which this person was getting his education, around age 20, let's say. But something in that chapter is related to another thing that the author won't be discussing in depth until Chapter 15 (because it happened later in that person's life), so he doesn't want to focus on the later time period just now while he's in Chapter 3. He just wants to mention some accomplishment that [would / was going to] come later in the famous person's life, and then go on with his discussion of the education of that person when he was just 20 years old. Later, in Chapter 15, he'll discuss that accomplishment in greater detail.

CJ
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Thanks.

Can you express an in-between period with 'will'?
English 1b3Can you express an in-between period with 'will'?
How do you mean? Do you have an example?

(In the examples we've already discussed above, you can't subsitute will for would, if that's what you're asking.)

CJ
In the examples we have discussed so far, 'would' (used as the future of the past) is being used to express that something is going to happen--something the author already knows:

Jake killed three men. And he would kill again.

Can 'will' be used to focus the reader on this in-between period, or is 'will' not really used in the same way?

Jake kills three men. And he will kill again.
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