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There is a sentence, "I would deny that report".

and here is another sentence and explanation.

ex) I would attend the party.

Means I'm not going to the party, unless something else is happens.

when I refer to the second sentence, I can't know the subject will deny the report or not.

How can I understand?

  • Should your example be "I would not attend the party" currently it says that you will attend. – djna Aug 12 at 7:05
  • I don't understand the relationship between the two sentences. The second sentence has no "report" or reference to a report. – djna Aug 12 at 7:07
  • @djna Thank you for replying. I saw some examples on the web. for example, 'I would be there 8:00 am, (but, I can't)<- can it be skipped?', this sentence is used for saying that "I actually will not be there 8:00am" I think it's a euphemism. I knew that 'would' can be the version of less certainty of 'will' but, I've confused how can I know the would is used positive or negative meanin – Kim Sunwoo Aug 12 at 7:13
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Would generally does not signify intention that the speaker is going to carry out - that's what will is for. If the speaker has an intention to deny the report, or go to the party, they'll say:

I will deny the report.

I will go to the party.

Would also expresses intention, but in most contexts it's a hypothetical one - it's usually used when something's stopping you from actually carrying it out, or - more generally - when talking about your intentions in a hypothetical situation that is different from the current one:

It's raining. I would go to the party if it weren't for that.

If they were asking me about it, I would deny the report.

The "if" clause does not have to be stated explicitly in the sentence and can be hidden in the context - for example:

- The boss keeps asking me why last quarter's data is so awful.

- I would deny the report.

In this case you don't have an "if" clause, but the context makes it clear that the second speaker is offering advice - so there's an implied "if I were you" condition which is not satisfied. It does not mean the second speaker is actually going to deny the report themselves - they'd use will if that was the case.

A slight exception comes from the fact that would is also a past tense form of will, and if the surrounding grammar requires a past tense form it can also signify actual intent that the speaker is going to carry out:

- What are you doing Saturday night?

- I thought I would go to the party.

So it depends on the surrounding context, but usually will means that the speaker is going to do the thing they're talking about, and would means that they are not.

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  • Thank you for your answer!! this is what I wanted. have a nice day! – Kim Sunwoo Aug 12 at 10:33
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If I understand your question correctly, you see a phrase such as

I would attend the party

as, in itself, implying the opposite of the apparent meaning. In this case implying an apology for not attending the party. You are then asking how we can infer this opposite meaning.

My thought as a native UK English speaker is that the meaning is not directly apparent in these words in isolation. The words would be part of a complete sentence whose meaning would be clear. [Interesting to note that, without pre-thought, I used the word would twice in that sentence, I hope unambiguously, to imply positive meaning.]

Consider these two sentences:

Well, I would come to the party, but unfortunately I have another engagement.

Or

I would come to the party if I received an invitation.

In one case it's a gentle refusal to attend in the other it's a desire to attend, the meaning is only clear from the full content.

Now, in informal speach we sometimes elide parts of sentences and use our tone of voice to make the meaning clear.

Well, I would come to the party, but <voice tails off ... but from tone of voice we can tell the speaker will not be attending>

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  • Yes! this is exactly what I wanted. thanks! – Kim Sunwoo Aug 12 at 10:26
  • @kim sunwoo glad to help. It's nice if you vote for answers you like and accept whichever you find most helpful. – djna Aug 13 at 6:33
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    Thank you. but, My reputation score is less than 15. so, It can't change the publicly displayed post score. but, I voted. thanks. – Kim Sunwoo Aug 13 at 6:53
  • @kim sunwoo, I understand. You can vote for more than one answer ;-) [Just to be clear, I'm not one of those people who checks his reputation every day and is obsessed with improving his score :-)] – djna Aug 13 at 6:57
  • Yeah. I know. I think It is minimum gratitude for you that I can do. Thank you very much :-) – Kim Sunwoo Aug 13 at 11:05

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