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Can we use "would" in the sense of but I/we/he won't? For example:

Person A: Can you come with me for shopping this evening?

Person B: I would, but I have an important meeting to attend. (meaning I won't)

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    That is a perfectly valid answer, but I would means I would be happy to come if I could, not I won't. – Kate Bunting Apr 6 at 19:41
  • So B's response in the OP means "they can't", and not "they won't". Am I right? – Mr. X Apr 7 at 6:09
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    B would like to come, but they can't. If they really didn't want to or were being less friendly, they could have said "I can't, because I have an important meeting." – Kate Bunting Apr 7 at 7:58

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