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I would like to understand what exactly this sentence means

Her family wouldn't help her and neither would anyone else.

Does it mean, I assume that her family will not help her and neither anyone else will help her or does it mean, I think, expect, her family will not help her and neither anyone else will help her?.

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Modal Verbs are very important aspect of English Language. They are different from normal verbs in English. Modal verbs have different meanings and they are also used to express conditional action. For example, I take the word "Would" to help you understand functionalities of modal verbs.

Would- Oxford Dictionary lists 7 different usages of "would" and each of them are used equally in day-to-day English usage.

verb (3rd singular present would)

1) past of will, in various senses.

Example- he said he would be away for a couple of days she wouldn’t leave the windows would not close

2) (expressing the conditional mood) indicating the consequence of an imagined event or situation:

Example- he would lose his job if he were identified

(I would) used to give advice: Example- I wouldn’t drink that if I were you

3) expressing a desire or inclination:

Example- I would love to work in America. Would you like some water?

4) expressing a polite request:

Example- would you pour the wine, please?

expressing willingness or consent:

Example- who would live here?

5) expressing a conjecture, opinion, or hope:

Example- I would imagine that they’re home by now.

Example- I guess some people would consider it brutal.

Example- I would have to agree

6) chiefly ironic used to make a comment about behaviour that is typical:

Example- they would say that, wouldn’t they?

7) [with clause] literary expressing a wish or regret:

Example- would that he had lived to finish it

Now you have to consider the situation and understand what meaning does would carry in your sentence. Here in the mentioned sentence, it seems the discussion is about the result of an event which did not occur in reality. So the usage suggests the meaning is similar to 2) in the list of meanings Oxford gave us i.e. " (expressing the conditional mood) indicating the consequence of an imagined event or situation. " You are right in your guess that it is kind of expectation what would happen probably if the girl had expected help from her family or anybody else.

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  • What makes you think it's about an event which did not occur in reality? It seems to me much more likely to be about an event which did occur, in which case it's either meaning (1) or (3). With this sentence, we can't distinguish between (1), (2) or (3) without more context. – Peter Shor Sep 24 '13 at 4:04
  • @PeterShor, (1) is not possible because it is not clear from the context if somebody is saying it right now or somebody said it already. (3) is possible if it had some preceding words. Now why I thought it is 2nd usage- the sentence does not provide if somebody said it or somebody says it in a sense of wish , so as default it is likely to be considered as usage of (2). – Mistu4u Sep 24 '13 at 4:14

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