Do the three would's have the same meaning in the following?

a. A: Who's ringing the doorbell? B: It'd (= would) be John.

b. I think my swimming pool would hold 20,000 gallons of water.

c. If I were a billionaire, I would buy a jet.

It seems that the "would" in (a) is a deductive usage, but I am not sure about (b) and (c).

1 Answer 1


No, they don't have the same meaning. In (b) and (c), they are used in apodosis clauses. That might not be apparent in (b), but we could easily add a protasis:

I think my swimming pool would hold 20,000 gallons of water if I tried to fill it up.

In (a), we can not add a protasis without changing the meaning. In other words, there is no conditional meaning in that sentence; the author is merely surmising about the likely identity of the person at the door.

(Note that I'm interpreting sentence (a) in the way I think you mean. Of course, it's possible to interpret it as a conditional, but that doesn't seem to be the intended meaning.)

  • Thank you. If (a) is used to surmise something, can (b) also be used for the same purpose?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 3:49
  • @Apollyon Do you have an example context in mind where sentence b. isn't a conditional outcome, but the conclusion of surmising?
    – gotube
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 3:54
  • Someone might say: The pool is 3 ft deep at the shallow end and 8 ft deep at the deep end (average depth 5 ft), and it is about 20 ft wide and 28 ft long, and contains 2800 cubic feet of water or just under 21,000 US gallons if it is filled to the brim, or 20,000 gallons if the water is a few inches below the brim. Isn't this a sort of surmise based on some facts the speaker knows?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 4:26
  • 1
    @Apollyon A: "How much water does your pool hold?" B: "I'm not sure." A: "I'll swim there only if it holds at least 20,000 gallons." B: "Oh, I think it would hold more than that." This isn't exactly the same, but it's the closest that I can think of. Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 4:50
  • In your dialogue, is the "would" a deductive usage?
    – Apollyon
    Commented Nov 17, 2022 at 5:56

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