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In dictionary,

"don’t you believe it!" (informal) used to tell somebody that something is definitely not true. ‘She wouldn’t do a thing like that.’ ‘Don’t you believe it!’

would you believe (it)? (informal) used to show that you are surprised and annoyed about something. And, would you believe, he didn't even apologize!

I don’t believe it! (informal) used to say that you are surprised or annoyed about something. I don't believe it! What are you doing here?

So, it seems that "would you believe (it)?"="I don’t believe it!"

But I am not sure what "would" in "would you believe (it)?" means? or it is just a way that native speakers say without any particular meaning?

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But I am not sure what "would" in "would you believe (it)?" means? or it is just a way that native speakers say without any particular meaning?

Would in "Would you believe it?" is a modal verb. I'll try to explain the meaning using this example:

Would you believe it if I told you that he did not even apologize!

See? It's a rhetorical question. The speaker is implying that the listener would not believe it if he were told it.

Thus, would is a modal verb similar to the would used here:

(said in an internet chatroom) "If I told you that I live in Russia, would you believe it?"

It's only that with "Would you believe it?!" you are not really asking, you are saying that "no normal person would believe that" or that "every normal person would be suprised if it were true".


So, it seems that "would you believe (it)?"="I don’t believe it!"

They are somewhat similar, but not precisely. Imagine you are alone in your flat. You walk into the bathroom and see that your washing machine is leaking water on the floor. You will be more likely to say

I don't believe it! I only bought it a month ago!

Instead of

Would you believe it? I only bought it a month ago!

.. because there is nobody around to address this rhetorical question to.

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    "If I told you that I live in Russia"--should be >> "If I told you that I lived in Russia" – Tom Dec 26 '16 at 5:51
  • @Tom Both live and lived are grammatical. This is an example of optional backshift. – snailcar Dec 26 '16 at 6:25
  • @snailplane, if you are living in Russia at the time you say this sentence, then both "live" and "lived" are ok. – Tom Dec 26 '16 at 6:40

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