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What is the difference between would not and did not?

For example:

I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop.
I called my girlfriend but she didn't stop.

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2 Answers 2

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I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop. It implies I had done my best to stop her, but she refused to stop doing what she had persisted. She had a will to disagree with me.

I called my girlfriend but she didn't stop. It implies she just continued doing something which I opposed her doing, but she didn't neccessarily have a negative attitude to my suggestion.

Would here is the past form of will, meaning was/were not willing to do sth. It lays more stress on the opposing attitude, not the action itself (doing what she had persisted).

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"I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop" - I can't think of any situation where I can fit this sentence. But if you add few words we can use that sentence with some alteration of meaning. "I called my girlfriend and I knew she wouldn't stop" - Self explanatory.

"I called my girlfriend but she didn't stop" - It narrates an incident, where it's pretty plain. You called her first, and then she ignored and walked on. I simple narration of past event.

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    Intro: "My girlfriend texted me that she is packing her things and leaving me." Climax: "I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop." End: "I am now alone." Roll credits.
    – Helix Quar
    Mar 25, 2014 at 9:08
  • My girlfriend's mom told me that Amy had looked in herself in her room, threatening to commit suicide. I was alarmed, and told her I would try to talk her out of it. We hung up. Her mom called the police. I called my girlfriend but she wouldn't stop. She told me she had already taken 10 sleeping pills, and was going to keep taking them until the bottle was empty. It's a sad narrative, but it shows that the first sentence can be used in some situations.
    – J.R.
    Jul 5, 2014 at 18:11

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