Re: I should be grateful/I would be grateful
As discussed in the first of Panjandrum's linked topics ("I should like to...") "would" has replaced the "classically" correct "should" in many cases in contemporary English. In such cases, such as above, where would is used instead of should, they mean the same thing.
Originally Posted by Prower
In "I should like..." should is the plain future. H W Fowler stated that it is not necessary to use would in this phrase, as the mood (of preference) is expressed with like: one therefore only need use the plain future shall. However, I think "I would be grateful" should be considered incorrect for a different reason: to be grateful does not express a preference or desire, so the use of would would not be redundant (as it is with like); however is it possible or meaningful to use a mood of preference or desire in regard to being grateful? That is, does it make sense to say "I wish to be grateful"? I think ordinarily it does not, so "I should be grateful" is the correct usage in the "classic" system. In current English "I should.." pronounced in full sounds formal or old-fashioned (to most people, I should say), and "I would.." is more common, but the problem is neatly dispensed with by the usual contraction "I'd", which can stand for either.
I'm not really sure why this change has come about. Perhaps it's merely a simplification: the usage of will and shall have always been difficult to fully master, and even the most accomplished and literate writers have made errors in their usage.
I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out. — Oscar Wilde