clients <could> send a request a response <would> be sent back

taraa

Senior Member
Persian
Is "could" here for past possibility here? And "would" habitual in the past?

"We can distinguish several levels at which integration took place. In many cases, a networked application simply consisted of a server running that application (often including a database) and making it available to remote programs, called clients. Such clients could send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response would be sent back. Integration at the lowest level would allow clients to wrap a number of requests, possibly for different servers, into a single larger request and have it executed as a distributed transaction. The key idea was that all, or none of the requests would be executed."

Distributed Systems, Tanenbaum
 
  • manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Such clients could send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response would be sent back.
    Well, whether you call that past possibility or past ability boils down to the same thing here. The sentence expresses the idea:
    Such clients were able to send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response was sent back (provided the server received and understood the request!)
    It's backshifted from present tense: Such clients can send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response will be sent back.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Well, whether you call that past possibility or past ability boils down to the same thing here. The sentence expresses the idea:
    Such clients were able send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response was sent back (provided the server received and understood the request!)
    It's backshifted from present tense: Such clients can send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response will be sent back.
    Thanks a lot!
    Aha, the first "would" is future in the past not habitual. How can we know it's habitual in the past or future in the past, please?
    But can you please explain the second "would" in "The key idea was that all, or none of the requests would be executed "?
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Second 'would' works the same way as the first.
    If you prefer to call it 'habitual would', you can do so. After all, the server would do that for each and every request. If there's only one single request, the server will respond only once, of course. It all depends how you wish to look at such descriptions. :)
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Second 'would' works the same way as the first.
    If you prefer to call it 'habitual would', you can do so. After all, the server would do that for each and every request. If there's only one single request, the server will respond only once, of course. It all depends how you wish to look at such descriptions. :)
    I understand. Thanks a lot :)
    I now found another "would" in the text. Can you please explain this "would" too?
    " Integration at the lowest level would allow clients to wrap a number of requests, possibly for different servers, into a single larger request and have it executed as a distributed transaction."
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The passage describes a general situation that existed in the past. We know it is no longer the general situation now, because of the verb "consisted". You can think of it as a general situation in the present that has been backshifted. Here is how it might be written in the present:
    A networked application simply consists of a server running that application (often including a database) and makes [I think "made" would be better in the original] it available to remote programs, called clients. Such clients can send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response will be sent back. Integration at the lowest level allows clients to wrap a number of requests, possibly for different servers, into a single larger request and [to] have it executed as a distributed transaction. The key idea is that all, or none, of the requests will be executed."​

    As you can see, the problem verb is "allow". Much of what is written after "after which" refers to a point after the time the request is sent, which is why "will be sent back" and "will be executed" can be used (but the present tense "are sent back" and "are executed" could be used instead). However, "allows" and "is" refer to the general situation which is why they use the present tense, the same as "consists".

    Personally, I think the original "would allow" would be better as "allowed", so I wonder whether this feature did not actually work, and "would allow" is written to express tentativeness.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The passage describes a general situation that existed in the past. We know it is no longer the general situation now, because of the verb "consisted". You can think of it as a general situation in the present that has been backshifted. Here is how it might be written in the present:
    A networked application simply consists of a server running that application (often including a database) and makes [I think "made" would be better in the original] it available to remote programs, called clients. Such clients can send a request to the server for executing a specific operation, after which a response will be sent back. Integration at the lowest level allows clients to wrap a number of requests, possibly for different servers, into a single larger request and [to] have it executed as a distributed transaction. The key idea is that all, or none, of the requests will be executed."​

    As you can see, the problem verb is "allow". Much of what is written after "after which" refers to a point after the time the request is sent, which is why "will be sent back" and "will be executed" can be used (but the present tense "are sent back" and "are executed" could be used instead). However, "allows" and "is" refer to the general situation which is why they use the present tense, the same as "consists".

    Personally, I think the original "would allow" would be better as "allowed", so I wonder whether this feature did not actually work, and "would allow" is written to express tentativeness.
    Thank you sooo much Uncle Jack :)
    Sorry just I didn't understand " think the original "would allow" would be better as "allowed"". Do you mean you prefer "allowed" to "would allow"?

    I thought "would" in "would allow" is habitual in the past. That's wrong, right?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Do you mean you prefer "allowed" to "would allow"?
    Yes.
    I thought "would" in "would allow" is habitual in the past. That's wrong, right?
    No, it is right, but I don't really see why "allow" should be thought of as a habitual action here, particularly when "send" is not. Sending takes place repeatedly, but the thing only needs to be allowed once. It seems to me that "would" (except for "would allow") is used as a future in the past time marker; unnecessarily, in my opinion.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Yes.

    No, it is right, but I don't really see why "allow" should be thought of as a habitual action here, particularly when "send" is not. Sending takes place repeatedly, but the thing only needs to be allowed once. It seems to me that "would" (except for "would allow") is used as a future in the past time marker; unnecessarily, in my opinion.
    Thank you again so much!
     
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