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According to https://www.englishclub.com/grammar/verbs-modal-would.htm, would can be used to create remoteness of possibility or probability remoteness between speakers (formality, politeness).

Here are examples by me that try to create remoteness of possibility or probability or remoteness between speakers as the site says we can.


Would examples:

(1) If you want my answer, I would think that I will give you some.

(2) I would expect him to come because he doesn't seem to be busy.

(3) I saw him jogging this morning. He would seem to be getting better if he is able to go jogging now.

(4) You have the correct answer. Well, I would have to agree with you if you have the correct answer.

(5) It's Christmas. She would go to the church when people celebrate Christmas on the streets.


Could examples:

(6) If you want my answer, I could give you some.

(7) I could expect him to come because he doesn't seem to be busy these days.

(8) I saw him jogging this morning. He could get better soon if he is able to go jogging now.

(9) You have the correct answer. Well, I could agree with you if you have the correct answer.

(10) It's Christmas. She could be at the church when people celebrate Christmas on the streets.


My questions:

(a) Can we use them this way?

(b) Do we just treat would and could as softer will and can when using them for these purposes?

(c) And even though would and could are in past tense, we don't need to change the tense in subordinate clauses and we just use the tenses in the subordinate clauses according to what we try to say, right?

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  • Your 'would' examples are OK, though I don't quite understand the intended meaning of No. 5. The 'could' sentences don't work so well. – Kate Bunting Jan 22 at 9:38
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    "She goes to church often. She could [well] be at/in church when [other] people are hanging out on the streets on Christmas Day." See this question – Kate Bunting Jan 23 at 9:26
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    Could has the implication 'it would be possible if you wish for it'. (7) and (9) don't really make sense. (8) would be better expressed as "He could/must be getting better/on the road to recovery if he is able to go jogging". "He could get better soon if he is able to go jogging" sounds as though you think jogging is his only possibility for recovery! – Kate Bunting Jan 23 at 9:39
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    If you mean that she attends services, it's goes to church (see the link I provided). Could well be = is likely to be. Would doesn't fit with the present tense. "She would be at church when other people were hanging out." - but that isn't the conditional. – Kate Bunting Jan 23 at 11:56
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    Would has to match the tense of the verb in the if-clause. You could use 'If he ate... he would...' as well. – Kate Bunting Jan 27 at 12:00

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