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a sentence from extra examples of item #2 on oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com:
(1) Don't be so nervous — anyone would think I was about to leap on you.

I don't understand the choice of the verbs "would" and "was".

What does "would" mean here?
Could you show me please in a dictionary that meaning of "would" the example of which could be (1)?

Why, for using with "would", is the verb "be" selected namely in the past simple form (I mean, "was")?


How will the sentence meaning change if we replace "was" with "am"?:
(2) Don't be so nervous — anyone would think I am about to leap on you.
Is (2) correct?
If not, then why not?
If it is, then what is the difference between (1) and (2)?


I understand only sentences without "would", for example:
(3) Don't be so nervous — anyone may think I am about to leap on you.
(4) Don't be so nervous — anyone might think I was about to leap on you.
(5) Don't be so nervous — anyone might think I am about to leap on you.

(3), (4) and (5) are understandable to me because they don't have "would".
But as soon as "would" arises, I'm immediately getting confused.

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    It describes a hypothetical situation; if someone (who didn't know us) were to come along, they would think that I was about to leap on you. Oct 15, 2023 at 8:32

1 Answer 1

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The would is used for a conditional. The "if" part of the condition is not expressed and must be understood from the wider context.

I understand this to be "... If anybody saw you now, acting nervous, [they] would think I was about to leap on you"

The past simple form is chosen as the second conditional.

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