Anyone who would speak with authority on the poets of the Renaissance must have a broad aquaintance with the writers of classical antiquity.

Here, I think there should be "Anyone who will speak" at the place of "Anyone who would speak". But I don't know either first one is wrong or right. Please explain.

  • They're both fine, although the second version is actually more unusual than the first. The only context I can picture in my head for it is somebody holding a gun to a group of picture and shouting that statement. This is mostly because of the combination of will and must, not only because of the verb itself. If it were will and should it would be more natural. In fact, if must is changed to should, then I think the second version becomes the more natural. – Jason Bassford May 22 '18 at 14:28

No, it's fine. It's a rather old-fashioned use of would to mean wants to or wishes to.

  • I'm not sure about "old-fashioned" there. It's certainly not true that OP's suggested replacement of would by will would be more "modern" - it's just relatively unlikely. And I might be mistaken, but I have the distinct feeling that to the extent there has been a usage shift over time, it was probably more common to use will in this exact context 2-3 centuries ago than it is today. I'd also just point out that I couldn't marry anyone who would do that! is perfectly natural English, but probably only a non-native speaker would use will there. – FumbleFingers May 22 '18 at 14:27
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    @FumbleFingers, I certainly don't suggest that will would be more modern there. I think the use of would that I identified does not function as a past of will, but is isolated. I think it is different from the anyone who would do that construction, which I think is the past of will (past for irrealis, so-called "past subjunctive"). The original sentence is not irrealis. – Colin Fine May 22 '18 at 16:07
  • Ah, right - I see what you mean. I now agree with you, but I'll leave my first comment there unless / until a mod deletes it. – FumbleFingers May 22 '18 at 16:23

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