Is it possible in English to create ambiguity between the expressions "you are" and "you would be" as an equivalent of the Italian expressive construct "saresti"?

This construct is useful in Italian, because, if the listener thinks the speaker means "you are", the listener coils get offended, but the speaker could escape an offensive contattack fin the listener explaining they meant, "you would be". In the other hand, if the listener thinks the speaker is wondering whether the listener would belong to a particular category of actions, had they done something else, and the listener indeed belongs, they could reply "yes I am". In the other two cases, the speaker thinks "you would be" and the listener agrees with "yes I would be if", or the speaker means "you are", in a distanced and cautious manner, and the listener responds with "yes I am".

I wonder if there is a way to introduce a similar construct, based on ambiguity of interpretation, in english, it if these ambiguity-based interaction modalities are local to Italian only.


  • Not sure. Can you give an example? One ambiguity you can have in English is between "you" (2nd person) and "you" (indefinite referent meaning "one"/"people in general"/"a random person"). Sometimes someone will say "when you do X..." and the addressee will protest "but I don't do X!". The first person will then say "no, I didn't mean you, I meant 'you' as in 'someone'." – rjpond Oct 14 '20 at 11:14

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