In the dialogue below, does the man think that the coming meeting will be not successful?

Woman: "The foreign minister is meeting with the opposition on Monday to try to find a peaceful compromise".
Man: "None of the meetings so far have had any luck. Think this one could be different?"

  • 1
    To put it bluntly, yes. But being blunt is not what politicians do. Aug 9, 2014 at 2:27
  • Was this originally spoken? Tone of voice would help us interpret it.
    – user230
    Aug 9, 2014 at 6:39
  • I am sorry that they are printed. Aug 9, 2014 at 8:09
  • 1
    MountainShape - Printed where?
    – J.R.
    Aug 10, 2014 at 9:03
  • It is one sentence in a dialogue given as a listening test. Aug 12, 2014 at 8:06

5 Answers 5


I agree with 200_success. The man stated a fact and is challenging the woman in an informal way, I see no expressions resembling hope or optimism.


I don't think that this is strictly a question about English; it's a question about rhetoric that could work equally well in any language.

To interpret the man's response, you should think about what was left unsaid.

Woman: The foreign minister is meeting with the opposition on Monday to try to find a peaceful compromise.

Man: None of the meetings so far have had any luck. [Do you] think this one could be different? [I don't think so.]

The fact that he even raised a "What do you think?" kind of question implies that he doesn't think so. If he were optimistic, his response would have been:

Man: None of the meetings so far have had any luck, but I hope this one will be different.

By leaving out the words "I don't think so", he is communicating his pessimism indirectly, and leaving some room for plausible deniability, since the words didn't come straight out of his mouth.

  • "Think this one could be different? I'm not sure, I hope so.."
    – nhaarman
    Aug 9, 2014 at 10:12

It doesn't say much about how the man thinks the meeting will proceed. He is recognizing the pattern of previous meetings (all failures) and asking for the woman's opinion. If anything, there is a hopeful tone to the man's question. He suspects it might fail, but is looking for a reason why it might succeed.

If the man instead said "Why should this one be any different?", then it is obvious that he thinks the meeting will fail.


I hear it as "I'm hopeful that this one will be different, now, are you going to contradict me?"


Ok, I'll elaborate. Compare:

Think this one's going to be any different?


Think this one could be different?

I think local variation matters here, and I think different speakers will hear it differently. But for me, the first one is negative, and the second one is hopeful.

Why? Maybe the word "could" - clearly talking about future possibilities.

But I think intonation and expression will matter more than just the words.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post.
    – Nico
    Aug 9, 2014 at 19:40
  • Really? The question is "Does it imply optimism?" My answer is: "Yes" (as I hear it). Aug 10, 2014 at 1:50
  • @SteveB - There is some ongoing debate amongst the ELL community about whether or not a yes-or-no question should be answered with a simple "yes" (or "no"), or if it should provide further elaboration, substantiation, or explanation along with the basic answer. (Not my downvote, btw. I had been more in the camp of thinking that answers should provide more than "Yes, you're correct," but I've been softening my personal stance after reading some of the answers to my meta question.)
    – J.R.
    Aug 10, 2014 at 9:01
  • My previous comment is actually an automated response generated when I voted to convert your original post into a comment. After your edit, I've upvoted the answer, because I think it makes a good point.
    – Nico
    Aug 10, 2014 at 20:57

The man says none of the previous meetings have been successful. But he thinks/hopes that this time the result will be different.

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