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I would roast you but my mom said I am not allowed to burn trash.

Why is "would" used in this sentence?

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I would roast you but my mom said I am not allowed to burn trash.

Would is a past-tense form of will; however you can also use it to indicate something that was in the future at that point in time, but is not necessarily in the future right now. In your example, the person is saying that they would do something in the future but there is a reason that they will not.

You didn't ask about this, but for clarification, this statement is both a put-down (a criticism of someone else, often rude or offensive) and relies on a pun based around dual meanings of "roast". To roast something literally means to cook using heat, but a secondary meaning is to verbally tear someone down in a cruel, mocking way. So the person is actually indirectly calling the person "trash", and he is roasting him.

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  • So is it like " I would roast you in normal conditions(because you did a roastable thing), but I will not roast you because my mother said I am not allowed to burn trash.?
    – ikigai20
    Oct 15 '19 at 11:50
  • @lollel123 Exactly - but its all a pun, because the advice from his mother, if it is even real, is about literally burning trash; and by saying all of this, he is roasting him
    – Astralbee
    Oct 15 '19 at 12:08
  • Well explained and it's actually pretty funny.
    – Lambie
    Oct 15 '19 at 15:46
  • @Astralbee Can you explain more? Why is the first clause used in the sentence?
    – ikigai20
    Oct 18 '19 at 14:57
  • @lollel123 I would explain it again but I covered it in my answer. When we "I would have... but", we are giving a reason why we are not going to do something. The person is saying they would have roasted the person, but there is a reason they didn't. I appreciate that this is a complex example, because the sentence is not sincere. The whole statement is a roast.
    – Astralbee
    Oct 18 '19 at 19:27
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Even though 'would' is the past tense of 'will', we use would and could for hypothetical situations in the future. In this case, the scenario with which we're presented is hypothetical. The hypothesis being "If you weren't trash, I could burn you because I wouldn't be going against mum's rule of not burning trash".

The same rule applies if we consider the initial statement a conditional since we use 'would' as a helping verb to show that something might be likely or meant to happen under certain conditions. The condition being mom's rule once again.

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