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EN: would want to + verb / would + verb

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by Un Québécois, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Un Québécois Junior Member

    Français
    Hello,
    For being simple, what is the difference between I would want and I would?
    I have no context.

    Thank for reading.
     
  2. David dL Junior Member

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    English - Canada
    Hi neighbour,

    Being simple, the difference is that 'I would want' is stating a conditional of the desire to have something, while 'I would' is an incomplete phrase.

    'I would want' - Je voudrais
     
  3. dangph

    dangph Senior Member

    English - Australia
    To add to David's answer:

    'I would' - Je rais
     
  4. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Hello Un Québécois,

    I'm afraid your question is too broad—we can't teach you a whole grammar lesson. Please provide us with a specific example.
     
  5. Ahno New Member

    Paris
    Français - France
    Hello everyone,

    I think I may complete Un Quebecois' question - or at worst ask a new one !

    I can't find the exact difference between would and would want :
    - Would you like some tea ?

    - No, I wouldn't abuse your kindness.
    - No, I wouldn't want to abuse your kindness.

    The signification is apparently the same - at least I would translate the sentences the same way : Non, je ne voudrais pas abuser de votre gentillesse.
    Or am I totally wrong and do we have to translate the first sentence : "Non, je n'abuserais pas de votre gentillesse." ?

    If the meaning is the same for the two examples, I can't figure WHY we can get rid of "want to" in the first sentence.
    Does would have an idea of will ? (Est-ce que would véhicule l'idée de volonté ?)

    Thank you !
     
  6. Tochka Senior Member

    Bonsoir et bienvenu au forum!

    - No, I wouldn't abuse your kindness. = Non, je n'abuserais pas de votre gentillesse.
    - No, I wouldn't want to abuse your kindness. = Non, je ne voudrais pas abuser de votre gentillesse.
    As shown above, while either of these could be said in reply to the question, they do not express identical ideas. The first is merely using the conditional of "abuse" while the second uses the conditional of "want".

    Although I believe "would" is etymologically related to "will" and both did originally express volition, in modern times we tend to think of these mainly in terms of their grammatical functions--with "will" being a vehicle for expressing the future tense and "would" for expressing the conditional.

    We do still have some vestiges of the older meaning, however. For example, we use the word "will" in the sense of desire when speaking of a focused mental effort to bring a desire about, such as when we speak of someone "willing" something to happen, meaning to try to make it happen by force of mind, or when we speak of "willpower", meaning the power of controlling one's desires. We also sometimes still hear expressions like, "Would that he were here!", which I believe uses "would" as the subjunctive form of "will"--but normally today we would say "I wish he were here." When we do use the "would that..." phrasing, it is done as a deliberate borrowing from older usage, either for dramatic or comic effect.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  7. Ahno New Member

    Paris
    Français - France
    Thank you for your answer, Tochka !

    So if I get this right :
    - with "I wouldn't abuse your kindness.", your answer is strong and definitive : I don't want any tea, so you're really nice but no.
    - with "I wouldn't want to abuse your kindness.", you almost ask the person to insist

    It sounds weird to me because I have almost never heard would want like that...
    Would you say, as a native speaker, and in a common way, "I wouldn't want to abuse" ?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  8. Tochka Senior Member

    You're welcome! (And thanks for catching the missing apostrophe.:))
    I'm afraid this may be getting into a minefield of nuance.:D The tone in which the statements are delivered is what primarily makes the difference, in my opinion. Either could be a simple polite statement declining the offer, or a hint that the speaker would like the offeror to insist. Each could be said in a way to have either meaning, although I think most people making an offer would err on the side of trying to insist, or at least offering again, if there were any doubt.

    Literally speaking, of course, the first statement could be interpreted as primarily reflecting back on the speaker ("I'm not the sort of person who would abuse your kindness."), but--again depending on how the statement is delivered--it wouldn't necessarily carry that meaning. Similarly, I wouldn't say that "I wouldn't abuse" is necessarily "strong and definitive" or that "I wouldn't want to abuse" is necessarily almost asking the person to insist, although they can be used these ways. If pressed, I suppose I would say that the former tends more toward a flat statement about the situation -- i.e acknowledging the offer would cause trouble for the offeror and indicating this is not something the offeree would (with perhaps an understood implication of "would want to") do, while the latter conveys the idea of an intent not to abuse the kindness.

    Still, I believe the phrasing with "wouldn't want" is probably the more common. As a native speaker, I very frequently use "wouldn't want", although I would usually phrase it: "I wouldn't want to trouble you." ("I wouldn't want to abuse your kindness" sounds very formal.) I don't believe I myself would normally reply to an offer by saying, "No, I wouldn't trouble you" or "No, I wouldn't abuse your kindness."

    Interestingly, in certain contexts (e.g., in response to an offer of help) we might use the conditional phrasing in the first person, even thought the intent is to suggest that the other person should not go to the trouble. We might say, "Oh, I wouldn't go to the trouble!" or "Oh, I wouldn't trouble myself" or "Oh, I wouldn't bother to do that" to suggest that the other person not do something. While it literally implies "I wouldn't do that if I were in your place", when spoken in response to an offer it is understood to be a way of declining the offer.

    In any event, the way one responds to an offer, however, can easily be misinterpreted, so as a practical matter, in conversation, I would suggest using "wouldn't want" and, when hearing a form that seems unusual, assuming the reply is meant to be polite, however it is phrased.;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  9. Ahno New Member

    Paris
    Français - France
    Wahou, thank you for this very complete answer ! That helps a lot !

    I wouldn't want to trouble you any longer ;), but what about a sentence like :
    "She wouldn't tell her name."

    Is the translation "Elle ne voulait pas dire son nom." correct ?
    In that case, how is the idea of willing conveyed in English ?
     
  10. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Yes, your translation is correct and perfectly reflects the English. :) As a matter of fact, will/would does imply volition in English. In that example, it would sound weird to add want.

    She wouldn't tell her name. :thumbsup:
    She wouldn't want to tell her name. :thumbsdown:
     
  11. radagasty Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    Australia, Cantonese
    Both of these sentences are acceptable, although used in different circumstances. In the former, 'would' is simply the past tense of 'will', and has no conditional force, as reflected in the French voulait.

    She won't tell her name. -> 'Elle ne veut pas dire son nom.'
    She wouldn't tell her name. -> 'Elle ne voulait pas dire son nom.'

    The latter, however, has a conditional force, and might come about in a conversation like:

    Why don't you ask her her name?
    Oh, she wouldn't want to tell her name. -> 'Elle ne voudrait pas dire son nom.'

    Note that She wouldn't tell her name. is also possible as a response here, so 'wouldn't' can have a conditional force, permitting an alternative translation to Arno's:

    She wouldn't tell her name. -> 'Elle ne voudrait pas dire son nom.'
     
  12. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    I meant that it would be incorrect to say “She wouldn't want to tell her name” to translate Elle ne voulait pas dire son nom.
     
  13. Tochka Senior Member

    Presented with the phrase by itself, I would understand it to mean that she had refused to give her name: Elle a refusé de dire son nom.
    That is, it would convey the idea of an affirmative will not to tell it, which is slightly different from "She didn't want to tell her name"*.
    My interpretation might change depending on context, however.
    (*I defer to MaîtreC and other native francophones regarding the meaning of "ne voulait pas" in this context. I'm afraid that as an anglophone, I tend to have some problems properly understanding the nuances of "vouloir" in such cases, just as you do with "will/would"! ;))
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  14. Ahno New Member

    Paris
    Français - France
    Well, thank you all for your answers.

    I have to admit that it's still kind of hazy for me, since a sentence like :
    "I wouldn't trouble you" doesn't imply the idea of "want"

    while in a sentence like :
    "She wouldn't tell her name" it is implied...

    I think I'll stick to my intuition when I hear or speak English !
     
  15. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Ce qu'il faut comprendre, c'est que would a différents usages en anglais : il sert notamment à construire le conditionnel, à indiquer des habitudes passées et de verbe modal impliquant une volonté (auquel cas on utilise généralement le verbe vouloir en français). Ainsi, selon le contexte, She wouldn't tell her name peut se traduire de toutes sortes de façons : Elle ne dirait pas son nom, Elle ne voulait pas dire son nom, Elle n'a pas voulu dire son nom
     
  16. Ahno New Member

    Paris
    Français - France
    Merci Maître Capello!
     

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