you would not believe the trouble I’ve had

Discussion in 'English Only' started by VikNikSor, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    A new book thong to share with you today and you would not believe the trouble I’ve had!
    (a woman's talking about somehing relating to workbead)

    Why is she using "would" instead of "will"? She is going to tell about something (that is supposed to be unbelievable) now, in the nearest future.

    Thank you.
     
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    People don't always use "would" and "will" in the ways that are recommended by grammarians in their remarks about conditional statements and similar structures, Vik.

    As I read her use of "would", she's saying something like this: ...and I don't think that you would believe the trouble I've had. "Would" in her remark reinforces the notion that the trouble she had was an improbable thing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  3. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    Could you explain why you said that it "reinforces the notion ...."? I mean, if it were "will" instead, would it emphasize the notion more?
    Google gives a bit more results for "you wouldn't believe the trouble I’ve had" than "you won't believe the trouble I’ve had".
    But how do they differ from each other?
     
  4. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    'You would not believe the trouble I have had' is an unreal (counterfactual) hypothetical statement, which implies an unreal if-clause:
    'If I told you (or 'If I were able to tell you'), you would not believe the trouble I have had'.

    'You will not believe the trouble I have had' is a real (factual) statement or prediction, which implies a real (factual) subordinate clause:
    'When I tell you, you will not believe the trouble I have had'.

    The former implies that the telling is impossible or at least impractical and therefore will not happen.
    The latter implies that the speaker definitely intends to tell it all, but says in effect:
    'Prepare yourself to hear something which at first will seem incredible'.
     
  5. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    But the point is that the speaker (at the link) really started telling about her troubles after saying the phrase in question. That's why I'm confused:(
     
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I understand your confusion, Vik. As Wandle pointed out, "You would not believe the trouble I've had" is related to the hypothetical second conditional: "If I told you, you would not believe the trouble I've had". Then she tells you.

    Don't be surprised when this happens. As I mentioned in the first post, native speakers don't always follow the little patterns that grammarians present in their chapters about conditional statements. Even though she used "would" as if she were not going to tell you, her use of "would" does not prevent her from actually telling you.

    Here's a similar example: Vik says "Hi, Jeff. What happened to you?" I say: "Wow, Vik. You wouldn't believe it. A robber came into the store and took all my money."

    Could I have used "you won't believe it"? Yes. Did I use "wouldn't" instead of "won't"? Yes. It isn't unusual to use "wouldn't" that way, so don't let the use of "wouldn't" mess you up too much. Read the entire statement and figure out what the writer is telling you.
     
  7. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    I hope this is not true:)

    Thank you, all!
     
  8. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    It is true, as owlman5 says, that people often do not follow the logic of their own words.

    There is also another aspect, which comes out at the start of the second paragraph of the article in question:
    'Would you believe that it took FIVE attempts to make the matching bead?'

    In such cases, we do not ask 'Will you believe it?' but 'Would you believe it?'
    There must be some implied unreal if-clause here, such as 'even if you had all the information'.

    There is something illogical about asking 'Will you believe it?' because belief is not something we choose; it is involuntary: the direct consequence of our awareness acting upon our underlying outlook. That is why belief is seen as a matter of conscience.
     
  9. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    I agree with wandle.

    GS
     
  10. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    Could you please explain the marked sentence, I can't understand it, esp. -- what acts (consequence or awareness) and what underlying outlook is.
     
  11. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Our awareness (a) acts upon our underlying outlook (b) and the consequence of that is our belief (c).

    If I see (a) a bright light moving through the sky, and if in my underlying outlook (b) I accept the idea of alien visitations, then my belief (c) may be that I have seen an alien spaceship.

    If either (a) or (b) is absent, I will not have that belief.
     
  12. VikNikSor

    VikNikSor Senior Member

    Russian
    I see, thank you.
     

Share This Page