I know that 'would' has different usages, for requests, conditionals, habitual actions in the past, talking about the future in the past, willingness in the past, being less direct, etc.

Which role of 'would' is used in the sentence below for the two bold 'would'?

I can imagine many instances where XXX would work and some where it would not.

  • 1
    This is the tentative use of "would", a kind of modal remoteness. Despite what 'laugh' says in their answer below, it is definitely not irrealis mood, which uses "were", as in "I wish you were here", and nor is it subjunctive which uses a plain verb form, as in "It is vital that I be kept informed". – BillJ Nov 14 '17 at 19:06
  • Do you mean this is the prediction use of "would"? – learn9909 Nov 14 '17 at 19:23
  • You could think of this as a conditional with the "if" left unspoken. (= "I can imagine many instances where XXX would work [if we tried it] and some where it would not". (I agree that the terms "irrealis" and "subjunctive" don't apply here.) – rjpond Nov 14 '17 at 19:29
  • can you please explain about 'tennative use of would'? – learn9909 Nov 14 '17 at 19:47
  • tentative = not definite or certain. Would is often used as an auxiliary with verbs that refer to unreal or uncertain situations. I would tell you if I knew. or in your example It would work (might work) under certain circumstances but not always. – Michael Login Nov 14 '17 at 21:12

The instances here are imagined, not real.

For imagined situations, "would" is used instead of "will". This is the irrealis or subjunctive mood.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer and correction. Do you think " for the two bold would " is correct in my question? and also is this sentence (I don't think that there's any sentence you could write which would have the word 'article' without 'an' or 'the'.) imagined and therefore 'would' is used? – learn9909 Nov 14 '17 at 17:44
  • Both are grammatically correct. The first use somewhat colloquial; you may want to use "the two instances of 'bold' highlighted above". The service is incorrect: "this is my new article". – laugh Nov 14 '17 at 19:44

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