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This question already has an answer here:

He wouldn't eat this morning.

vs

He didn't eat this morning.

Could you explain to me what the difference is?

marked as duplicate by ColleenV Apr 8 '17 at 23:42

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He wouldn't eat this morning.

This implies that he made a conscious decision not to eat this morning.

He didn't eat this morning.

This is simply an observation. He did not eat this morning. It does not tell us anything about whether it was a conscious decision or not.


Note that this difference is also present in the following sentences:

  • I made him breakfast this morning but he would not eat it.

    This means he actively refused to eat the breakfast I made.

  • I made him breakfast this morning but he did not eat it.

    This means he simply did not eat it, but we do not know why. Perhaps he actively refused, perhaps he didn't have time, we can't tell from this sentence.

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He wouldn't eat this morning. (in the future)

he would NOT eat this morning , e.g.: he wake's up in the morning and decides to not eat something.

He didn't eat this morning. (in the past)

He did NOT eat this morning, e.g.: he wake's up in the morning and waits until morning is over (afternoon) and did not (didn't) eat anything in the morning.

please correct me if i am wrong.

  • Would is the past-tense form of will, not the future-tense, although it can be a rather complicated verb. – Jason C Mar 9 '17 at 1:43
  • @JasonC wouldn't is neither past nor future. It's just a tentative refusal. – user178049 Mar 9 '17 at 1:47
  • @user178049 In the OP's example, would is the past tense form of will. You may be thinking of its use in an imaginary future situation, which is not how it is being used here (e.g. "I wouldn't eat that even if I were starving"). The same applies to the negation, wouldn't / would not. See also the link in my previous comment for more info. – Jason C Mar 9 '17 at 2:02
  • @JasonC modal auxliaries do not always indicate the tense, besides, they show modal remoteness. The time adjunct("this morning") clearly shows it's not a past event. – user178049 Mar 9 '17 at 2:06
  • @user178049 On the contrary, "would" + "this morning" clearly shows it is a past event. Under no circumstances would one say "he would not eat this morning" to refer to a future event (well, unless of course you are talking about refusal to eat the actual morning itself, which is nonsense, or at least a highly unlikely intent here). For the future (the remainder of the current morning) you would say "he will not eat this morning". – Jason C Mar 9 '17 at 2:08

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