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  1. I can't imagine she would have arrived yet. [speculation]

  2. I can't imagine she will have arrived yet. [speculation]

Are they both correct and do they mean the same?

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Yes, there is a difference in meaning.

Asking "will you do [x]" is a direct question that invites a 'yes or no' response, whereas asking "would you do [x]" is a hypothetical question that invites a hypothetical answer, perhaps with conditions.

For example:

  • Will you buy a Lexus?
  • I will, when the price goes down. (certain, but with a condition)
  • Would you buy a Lexus?
  • If I had the money, I would. (hypothetical)

"Will she have arrived yet?" suggests that the answer will be either yes, or no - perhaps that time is the only factor in whether her journey is complete.

"Would she have arrived yet?" suggests that there may be some reason why she would not have - that the person being asked has further insight into the logistics of the journey.

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  • So "she would have arrived yet" is NOT like the result clause of a third conditional: If she had studied, she would have passed the exam. Here we know that she did not pass. Instead it implies there is a possibility that she has actually arrived. Am I right?
    – Mr. X
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 14:40

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