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If my friend asks me whether I drink coke after dinner,

Example 1

Why would I drink coke after dinner?

Example 2

Why would I want to drink coke after dinner?

Example 3

Why should I drink coke after dinner?

any of the examples can mean I do not drink coke after dinner, right?

Can you explain why we use "would" here?

Does that imply there is a condition, a if-clause?

3 Answers 3

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"Would" introduces conditional expressions.

So the first asks "Under what condition do I drink coke" and the second asks "Under what condition do I want to drink coke"

Both of these are to be understood as rhetorical questions. The speaker doesn't seek an answer to the question. The speaker implies by the rhetorical question: "There are no conditions under which I drink coke after dinner" (and you may infer that the speaker thinks the suggestion is ridiculous, and by extension, that the friend is foolish)

"Should" is different, it is not asking about conditions, but about advisability. But the implication in asking the rhetorical question is similar "It is inadvisable to drink coke after dinner and you are foolish for suggesting it."

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To me Example 1 & Example 2 look the same.

From the Britannica Dictionary:

Would is used to talk about a possible or imagined situation, and is often used when that possible situation is not going to happen. Should is used to say that something is the proper or best thing to do, or to say that someone ought to do something or must do something.

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    ...so (1) and (2) mean "Why do you imagine I would drink Coke after dinner?" and (3) means "Why do you think I ought to?" Oct 22, 2022 at 13:21
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    Back in the good old days when I went to school, the meanings of "would" and "should" were reversed for first-person usage. Ditto for "will" and "shall". I'm not saying to do that now, but be aware of it when reading old material. Oct 22, 2022 at 13:22
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    @RayButterworth - I was a solitary child, I read a lot of Dickens from the age of seven, and it took me a long time to realise that some people didn't do that. Oct 22, 2022 at 13:57
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Why would I drink coke after dinner?

The speaker is indicating that they are not going to drink coke after dinner, after some suggestion that they might. The listener might respond with a reason the speaker might actually do so, but is likely not expected to.

Why would I want to drink coke after dinner?

The speaker is indicating that they have a preference to not drink coke after dinner, after some suggestion that they might. The listener might respond with a reason the speaker might actually desire to do so, whether or not they actually might, but is likely not expected to.

Why should I drink coke after dinner?

The speaker is either indicating that they do not see a good reason to drink coke after dinner, or asking why the listener believes they should, after some suggestion that the listener believes they should. The listener is likely expected to answer the question.

A case like the first two where the listener is not expected to answer the question is called a "rhetorical question". In these cases, if the speaker answered their own question, the answers would be "I would not drink...", or "I would not want to drink...". Some rhetorical questions can imply affirmative answers, however.

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