I was trying to translate this sentence but I got confused in this sentence. Does the sentence "I would go" mean something like "I would go if I were you"?

This sentence is from Hemingway's story The Old Man at the Bridge.

This is the next sentence.

“If you are rested I would go,” I urged. “Get up and try to walk now.”

“Thank you,” he said and got to his feet, swayed from side to side and then sat down backwards in the dust.

2 Answers 2


More like "I would recommend that you go" or "I think you should go" than "I would go if I were you."

The use of "urged" suggests the former meaning.

Translating Hemingway I would probably try to mimic

“If you are rested you should go,” I urged.

word for word with short words. Avoid anything like the three syllable "recommend".


You are correct, "I would" is a shortening of "if I were you I would." This is a less common sense of the word would: OED has it as a verbal phrase, P7 in "will," v.1, (marked colloquial), defined as 'I advise or recommend you to.' Some other examples:

I wouldn't do that Sir! (a common polite way to tell someone to Stop!)
Q: How do I blow up the bridge? B: Well, if you had to, I'd start with the legs...
I'd be careful with that photo; you don't want it getting out.

The quote you give is particularly hard to parse because of Hemmingway's very curt style. In this case, the way to read

“If you are rested I would go.”

is as

“If you are rested I recommend that you go.”

  • 2
    While I do not disagree with anything you have said here - it is worth noting that Hemingway, in speech quotation, has a tendency to say it exactly as he hears it. In For Whom the Bell Tolls he takes this to the extent where he renders Spanish speech patterns, word order etc, literally into English - and it sounds very strange. I don't think this is what he is doing here, but it does seem as if he is reporting direct speech quite literally.
    – WS2
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 22:36
  • I see a striking similarity between "George K." and "James K." :)
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 8, 2022 at 23:58
  • @DialFrost hahah, I noticed that as well :) I assure you we are different people though lol
    – George K.
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 0:01
  • A bit suspicious, not gonna lie, considering your answers are well-written and fast (comparable to James_K)! :P And considering James_K went "offline" for awhile when you popped up ... XD
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 0:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .