We wouldn't utter a single word, (we would) just listen to each other's feelings echoed in our songs.

Can I omit the we would in the sentence above? Why or why not?


Yes you can, with a few modifications. Reason is because both clauses share the same subject and verb form, thus one clause can be omitted.

The modification needed is a conjunction and removal of the comma. Since the first clause is positive and the second is negative, the proper word is but:

We wouldn't utter a single word but just listen to each other's feelings echoed in our songs.

  • This is correct, but removing "we would" removes the past sense of the second clause, therefore "listen" should be changed to the past tense "listened" to keep the correct tense. – SteveES Apr 12 '17 at 11:30
  • @SteveES I'm not quite sure that's necessary, by rule of parallel we already know that "listen" is conjugated with the preceding "would" that we now omit. By changing to "listened" you however alter the original meaning of the sentence. – Gerry Apr 12 '17 at 11:35
  • Hmm, you may be right. The sentence sounds odd to me - I thought it was that, but maybe it's just me! – SteveES Apr 12 '17 at 11:39
  • 1
    A possible reason I find it odd: it's negating something with a but, but without a not (because it's negating a negative). E.g. "We would often eat fish but not eat chips" seems OK, but "We wouldn't often eat chips but eat fish" sounds odd (but not necessarily "wrong"?). When negating a negative it sounds much better (to me) to keep the "would". – SteveES Apr 12 '17 at 12:25
  • @SteveES Yeah I would agree that it's correct but does sound a little odd in daily speech. For academic writing I think it's completely valid that way, right? – Gerry Apr 12 '17 at 12:39

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