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I had asked a question How to ask for someone's name and where they are from politely or indirectly? in which@Jay also answered.But He used "wouldn't" in the following sentences while answerimg my question:

  1. Here, you wouldn't say, "May I ask you what is your name?" Though we break this rule for questions sometimes
  2. Well, someone might say that in informal speech, but you wouldn't write it or use it in formal speech.
  3. "May I ask you what's your name?" is awkward; a fluent speaker wouldn't say that.

I had asked Use and meaning of "wouldn't" in "you wouldn't" and "a speaker wouldn't" question in ELL and I have also received answers for it. But there is one thing that I'm still confused about.

Do the meanings of the sentences above change if we use 'won't' instead of using 'wouldn't' ? can we use 'won't' in the place of 'wouldn't' without changing the meanings of the sentences above?

Note:This question is all about wouldn't vs won't or are they interchangeable or not)

marked as duplicate by Alan Carmack, ColleenV, Glorfindel, Peter, Em. Aug 21 '16 at 21:59

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 2
    I wouldn't ask duplicate questions, if I were you. --OK, I won't do that again. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 21 '16 at 18:54
  • could you please read it carefully.It's a bit similar but not quite duplicate or same of previous? What this question has actually asked is different from previous.I Am here asking about wheather 'won't' interchange' wouldn't' in above sentences or not ,and the meanings change if done so. – yubraj Aug 21 '16 at 18:56
  • @yubrajsharma Please understand that punctuation matters. You can't randomly insert spaces, or omit them, before or after a comma or a period! A space comes only after a comma or period, never before it, and it must be included: "...from previous. I Am here asking..." ...and... "sentences or not, and the meanings..." ...and... "...Jay also answered. But he used..." – P. E. Dant Aug 21 '16 at 21:11

If you were to use won't, the negative of will, the most likely usage would be to express a strong intention or assertion about the future.

wouldn't is the negative of would, which is the past of will: it is used when indicating the consequence of an imagined event or situation.

Jay is talking about the expected outcome of an imagined situation, so he uses the word would.

You would only use won't if you wanted to express certainly that the situation would arise, and that you know the expected outcome. This would not be appropriate for the circumstances of Jay's answer.


Wouldn't and won't are not interchangeable in your three sentences. The meanings of the sentences are different depending upon which form of the verb is used.

If wouldn't is replaced by won't in the first sentence, we have:

  1. Here, you won't say, "May I ask you what is your name?"

Won't (a contraction of will not, the present tense of the verb will with the negative adverb) describes the future from the viewpoint of that future; it describes the future as "its own present." Wouldn't (a contraction of would not, the past tense of the verb will with the negative adverb) describes the future as if viewed from a time further ahead of the present than that future; it describes the future as "its own past."

It is always important to remember that even when the verb will is used as a modal or auxiliary verb, it is not merely a neutral word which places the action in the future. Every use of the verb will also partakes of its original meaning of wish for or want. Thus, wouldn't in your first sentence gives it the meaning:

Looking back at your words as if you had already spoken them, you wish you had not said "May I ask you what is your name?"

This expresses a strong preference for not using those words.

Replacing wouldn't with won't gives the sentence this meaning:

Looking at your words as if you are in the future and speaking them, you do not say "May I ask you what is your name?"

This merely states that, in the future, you do not use those words, with no sense of preference.

The meaning of will as to desire, wish is strong when the past tense would is used, and especially when in the negative as in your sentences. The construction You wouldn't +[bare infinitive] or You wouldn't want +[infinitive] is often used in English to emphatically suggest a negative desire or preference:

You wouldn't eat dirt!
You wouldn't want to get a speeding ticket!
‘But you wouldn’t want to read a whole book of text speak,’ I said. (Source)

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