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If you were having a party, you wouldn't want to invite someone that you knew wouldn't want to come.

  • Is this sentence 'that you knew wouldn't want to come.' also hypothetical OR does it refer to the past tense? As there is a past simple 'knew' and 'would' that's why I assume so.
  • is 'would' = 'will' in this part of the sentence?
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  • There is nothing in the context here to lead us to believe any kind of past is being discussed. It's all hypothetical. Commented Feb 5 at 23:11
  • I think the word "hypothetical" isn't helpful when considering the status of ...that you knew wouldn't want to come as opposed to ...who didn't want to come. Not to mention which, it's irrelevant that the element that you knew happens to be included, since the entire utterance would be completely meaningless if the addressee didn't know that (it's entailed by the utterance, not just implied). Commented Feb 6 at 1:50
  • @FumbleFingers "If you were having a party, you wouldn't want to invite someone who didn't want to come." OR "If you were having a party, you wouldn't want to invite someone who doesn't want to come." Would the latter be correct? or is there a rule to use the past form in the main clause?
    – hwkal
    Commented Feb 6 at 2:19
  • Your OR version is clumsy, because you're mixing "present" (doesn't) and "not present" (were, wouldn't) in the same utterance. Note that the "backshifting" here is entirely optional; it would be fine to say If you are having a party you don't want to invite someone who doesn't want to come. But if you are / were gonna "backshift" (which we usually do in this context), it's better to be consistent (as per the first version in your comment immediately above this). Commented Feb 6 at 11:38

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It is a hypothetical. The word "would" could not be replaced with the word "will" unless you changed the sentence to something like this:

If you are having a party, you won't want to invite someone that you know won't want to come.

Of course, the meaning isn't the same, although the gist of it is. Note: will not is replaced here by the contraction won't.

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  • The word "would [not]" could obviously be replaced with the word "didn't". And I don't believe that change would make the slightest difference to the meaning, so it's not in any meaningful sense a "hypothetical" reference - except insofar as the utterance starts with You wouldn't want to invite... as a "polite circumlocution" for You don't want to... = You shouldn't... Commented Feb 6 at 1:55

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