In this sentence,

Why would you ever kiss me?

To me, 'would' represent the future event. So the sentence means that the 'kiss' is not done yet but he/she is going to kiss sometime later.

But I looked at this answer, it claims that 'would' can be used after the 'kiss' also.

This is the part of the answer:

However, this could be said after a kiss.

"Why would you ever kiss me? I'm married!" Why would you make the decision to kiss me, when there is a good reason not to.

I don't quite understand this interpretation. What is the meaning of 'would' if the sentence is used after the kiss?

1 Answer 1


The speaker is taking the presumed past viewpoint of the other person who has just kissed them. Just as the person who kissed might have asked, "Why would I kiss them?", the speaker is asking, "Why would you kiss me?"
It's a hypothetical question about a general situation, and doesn't necessarily refer to the future. So, the "married" condition is true in all time frames, and the "would" is about the willingness of the kisser to do the act, at any time, with that condition.

An expression with tense in that situation would be

I am married. Why did you / have you kissed me?

In fact, the word "ever" in the question underlines its independence of time.

  • But the sentence part "....when there is a good reason not to", reflects futurity, doesn't it?
    – Ram Pillai
    Sep 1, 2020 at 0:55
  • It's an ongoing condition in the past and present, and into the immediate future, so it presumably bore on the decision in all time frames. The "would" in the expression has no tense, it's about the willingness of the kisser under the condition. Sep 1, 2020 at 1:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .