Which of the following two sentences is correct, and why?

A good example of that phenomenon would be....

A good example of that phenomenon is....

What exactly are the differences between these two constructions (in a science setting)? To give my two cents, "would be" sounds more natural. However, I do find it logically incoherent, as you are giving what you believe a good example is, and using 'would be' would denotes a hypothetical situation (modal verb), making the sentence sound like "It would be a good example if it weren't for the fact that..."

Please provide your understanding in addition to the sentence you believe is correct. Many thanks in advance

  • 1
    In a fact based context, I would use "is". Using "would" reads like the phenomenon is a suggestion rather than a fact. – user3169 Feb 27 '17 at 21:18
  • 1
    As you suggest yourself, would be generally works better with a hypothetical example and is with an actual example. As in: A good example of that phenomenon is the melting of the Arctic ice cap, and A good example of that phenomenon would be a tsunami caused by an under-sea earthquake. There are also cases where either construction would work: *A good example of that phenomenon would be/is the elephant mother's protective behaviour". – Ronald Sole Feb 28 '17 at 0:20
  • From what I picked up reading your comments, is it fair to say that a hypothetical example is one that you thought up but doesn't necessarily happen in real life? As in, a good example of self-defense would be USA striking down missiles from Russia. – JUNCINATOR Feb 28 '17 at 9:00

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