I would do anything to protect my daughter

Peter Thompson

Senior Member
Malaysian
Hi! I found a native speaker of English saying "I would do anything to protect my daughter". Why does the speaker use "would" here ? Instead of "will" ?
What is the speaker talking about here ?

Many Thanks!
 
  • Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    It's hypothetical: I would do anything to protect my daughter if I had to.
    So the meaning is the same as "Whenever my daughter is in danger, I will protect her" ?
    Is the speaker merely talking about a hypothetical situation ? Why does the speaker only imagine it ? Doesn't the speaker protect in reality?
    I'm lost here.
     
    So the meaning is the same as "Whenever my daughter is in danger, I will protect her" ?

    Yes. The original quote should be read as:

    I would do anything to protect my daughter [if she were in danger].

    The assumption is that the daughter is not usually in danger, but, should a danger arise, the parent will do anything to protect her. That's why the parent was speaking hypothetically.

    If he or she had said "I will do anything to protect my daughter," the implication would be that the daughter was currently in danger or that the threat of danger had arisen.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Yes. The original quote should be read as:

    I would do anything to protect my daughter [if she were in danger].

    The assumption is that the daughter is not usually in danger, but, should a danger arise, the parent will do anything to protect her. That's why the parent was speaking hypothetically.

    If he or she had said "I will do anything to protect my daughter," the implication would be that the daughter was currently in danger or that the threat of danger had arisen.
    Can we express this idea in the past?

    "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" to mean that she was not usually in danger but whenever she was in danger, I protected her.
    Is this possible?
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi! I found a native speaker of English saying "I would do anything to protect my daughter". Why does the speaker use "would" here ? Instead of "will" ?
    What is the speaker talking about here ?

    Many Thanks!
    would = potential future
    will = expected future

    Since "expected future" is closer to "reality" than "potential future," it makes sense to use will for something that's imminent or likely to occur. If it's just conjecture, would does the job.
    Can we express this idea in the past?

    "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" to mean that she was not usually in danger but whenever she was in danger, I protected her.
    Is this possible?
    Modal verbs as a category share one trait: they don't inflect for tense. If you want to place a modal verb in the "past," you use the construction modal verb + have + past participle.

    Each modal verb has particular uses and restrictions. Modal will can't be used in your past context, so that leaves

    I would have done anything to protect her

    What's the meaning? Only context and speaker perspective can reveal the intended meaning. Was the danger potential or expected? Did the father actually protected his daughter? But you don't need a modal verb:

    Whenever my daughter is in trouble, I protect her
    Whenever my daughter was in trouble, I protected her


    Neither "protect" nor "protected" refer to something that actually "happens" or "happened" at the moment of speaking. The verb forms refer to what can happen in the present, and could happen in the past.
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" to mean that she was not usually in danger but whenever she was in danger, I protected her.
    Here’s my take on it:

    Your explanation is valid but not the only possibility here. The “would” introduces a vague, undefined condition of some kind. Maybe the speaker means that, if they had only known about the problem, they would have protected their daughter (but they didn’t know). Maybe they were only put to the test a little, in reality, but are declaring their willingness to have done more for her. Or as you say, it could be an expression of passionate devotion that was always put into action when needed (but not necessarily put into action). The primary idea is, would have. The “If” remains undefined.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Here’s my take on it:

    Your explanation is valid but not the only possibility here. The “would” introduces a vague, undefined condition of some kind. Maybe the speaker means that, if they had only known about the problem, they would have protected their daughter (but they didn’t know). Maybe they were only put to the test a little, in reality, but are declaring their willingness to have done more for her. Or as you say, it could be an expression of passionate devotion that was always put into action when needed (but not necessarily put into action). The primary idea is, would have. The “If” remains undefined.
    Here's my understanding of your explanation :

    "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" could mean one of these things below :
    1. When my daughter was in danger, I did anything to protect her

    2. I didn't protect her but I wish I had done.

    Do I get it right ?
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Hm. Not necessarily wishing/regret. The speaker is expressing readiness to protect her in the past. We don’t know any more about the circumstances.
    I see. But Am I correct in saying that "I would have done anything for my daughter" could mean that when my daughter was in danger, I did protect her ?
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Sorry for the confusion.

    I meant where you said “when my daughter was in danger, I did protect her”. It’s a kind of mini-story. :)
    I'm really thankful that you're helping me!

    So, I could say to someone about my daughter like this :
    "I would have done anything for her" to mean that whenever it was needed, I did anything for her (in any circumstances)

    Is it possible to use "would have" to convey this idea ?
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I'm really thankful that you're helping me!

    So, I could say to someone about my daughter like this :
    "I would have done anything for her" to mean that whenever it was needed, I did anything for her (in any circumstances)

    Is it possible to use "would have" to convey this idea ?
    My pleasure!

    So when you say "I would have done" something, it's not definite enough to convey that you actually did something. It implies conditions, and you haven't told us what the conditions are. It's better to use a more direct construction if you want us to understand (by this sentence alone) that you actually protected her:

    I did everything I could to protect my daughter. :tick:

    With more context, you could say something like:

    I took a bullet in the leg that got infected and spent a month in the hospital in order to protect my daughter when she was in danger. I would have done anything to protect her. :tick: (i.e., I would have done even more, maybe even given my life, if necessary to save her).

    So you see, "would have" doesn't, by itself, tell you what someone did in the past. In fact, it refers to what you didn't do, but would have done, under the right conditions.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    In conclusion, If I say "I would have done anything to protect her" to mean that whenever she was in danger, I was there to protect her, I have to give a clear context for the listener to understand what I mean by it.

    Basically saying "I would have done anything for her" to mean that whenever it was needed, I did anything for her (in any circumstances) is possible. But for the listener to understand that I was always there for her, I give a clear context

    Do I get it right ?

    Is it true that If I say "I would have done anything to protect her" instead of "I did everything to protect her", I'm talking about circumstances in which I would have done anything to protect her instead of telling the fact that I did anything to protect her ? Is this true ? And If I'm talking about conditions and circumstances using "would have" , can I convey the idea that I actually did anything to protect her in reality in the past instead of imagining in my head ?


    I took a bullet in the leg that got infected and spent a month in the hospital in order to protect my daughter when she was in danger. I would have done anything to protect her. :tick: (i.e., I would have done even more, maybe even given my life, if necessary to save her).
    Here, in this example Did I in reality in the past do anything for my daughter ? Or is it just in my imagination ?

    And if it means that I did do anything for her, does it mean I did in any circumstances in your example ?

    So you see, "would have" doesn't, by itself, tell you what someone did in the past. In fact, it refers to what you didn't do, but would have done, under the right conditions.
    With this being said, does it mean that i can't say "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" to mean that in reality I did anything to protect my daughter in any circumstances ?
     
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    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In conclusion, If I say "I would have done anything to protect her" to mean that whenever she was in danger, I was there to protect her, I have to give a clear context for the listener to understand what I mean by it. :tick:

    Basically saying "I would have done anything for her" to mean that whenever it was needed, I did anything for her (in any circumstances) is possible. But for the listener to understand that I was always there for her, I give a clear context :tick:

    Do I get it right ?

    Is it true that If I say "I would have done anything to protect her" instead of "I did everything to protect her", I'm talking about circumstances in which I would have done anything to protect her instead of telling the fact that I did anything to protect her ? :tick: Is this true ? And If I'm talking about conditions and circumstances using "would have" , can I convey the idea that I actually did anything to protect her in reality in the past instead of imagining in my head ?
    Yes, but what actually happened is not told by “would have”. “Would have” is compatible with the idea that something else really happened, but does not determine it.
    Here, in this example Did I in reality in the past do anything for my daughter ? Or is it just in my imagination ?

    I think it’s clear from the example about taking a bullet in the leg that the speaker really did something to protect the daughter. But the “would have” applies to other, hypothetical aspects that did not happen.
    And if it means that I did do anything for her, does it mean I did in any circumstances in your example ?


    With this being said, does it mean that i can't say "I would have done anything to protect my daughter" to mean that in reality I did anything to protect my daughter in any circumstances ?
    Here we are starting to use “anything” and “any” with two meanings so I fear more confusion if I try to disentangle it.

    Maybe it would help to say that “Would have” is compatible with several contexts about the past. But the phrase does not by itself mean those contexts.

    I did nothing to help my daughter. But I would have done anything (if I had known she needed help). :tick:

    I did one thing to help my daughter. But I would have done anything (everything, if it were necessary). :tick:

    I would not have lied to you (if xyz) but I did lie that time. :tick:

    I would not have lied to you (because I never lie). :tick:

    Simple past tells us what really did or didn’t happen. “Would have” tells us a hypothetical about the past that involves conditions that did not apply.

    I hope you’ll excuse me, but I am losing my focus on this point, so I think I’ll let this conversation stand without any further comment. I hope it may have been helpful to you in some way.
     
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    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Yes, but what actually happened is not told by “would have”. “Would have” is compatible with the idea that something else really happened, but does not determine it.


    I think it’s clear from the example about taking a bullet in the leg that the speaker really did something to protect the daughter. But the “would have” applies to other, hypothetical aspects that did not happen.

    Here we are starting to use “anything” and “any” with two meanings so I fear more confusion if I try to disentangle it.

    Maybe it would help to say that “Would have” is compatible with several contexts about the past. But the phrase does not by itself mean those contexts.

    I did nothing to help my daughter. But I would have done anything (if I had known she needed help). :tick:

    I did one thing to help my daughter. But I would have done anything (everything, if it were necessary). :tick:

    I would not have lied to you (if xyz) but I did lie that time. :tick:

    I would not have lied to you (because I never lie). :tick:

    Simple past tells us what really did or didn’t happen. “Would have” tells us a hypothetical about the past that involves conditions that did not apply.

    I hope you’ll excuse me, but I am losing my focus on this point, so I think I’ll let this conversation stand without any further comment. I hope it may have been helpful to you in some way.
    Thank you for your help!
    It's been very helpful for me!
    I'm not going to add a further question about this but I have a simple question to ask about how you use "would have" in another thread of mine.

    You say this : "I would not have lied to you, I'm not that kind of person"
    In this sentence, are you using would for talking about a hypothetical situation or are you using would for talking about the moral stance of the speaker ? That's all my question is!

    Thank you so much!
     

    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Thank you for your help!
    It's been very helpful for me!
    I'm not going to add a further question about this but I have a simple question to ask about how you use "would have" in another thread of mine.

    You say this : "I would not have lied to you, I'm not that kind of person"
    In this sentence, are you using would for talking about a hypothetical situation or are you using would for talking about the moral stance of the speaker ? That's all my question is!

    Thank you so much!
    Both or just the second. Grammatically it’s a hypothetical. Pragmatically it’s probably an actual situation being discussed. The moral stance derives from the context in conjunction with “wouldn’t”. I.e. in a given situation, or in the situation being discussed, this is how I would/wouldn’t behave (in the past).
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Both or just the second. Grammatically it’s a hypothetical. Pragmatically it’s probably an actual situation being discussed. The moral stance derives from the context in conjunction with “wouldn’t”. I.e. in a given situation, or in the situation being discussed, this is how I would/wouldn’t behave (in the past).
    So, would in the use to talk about a moral stance is still a conditional would.

    From all the explanation given by you. Here's my conclusion :
    Saying "I would have helped her" doesn't necessarily mean that a condition did not happen or I did not help her (the opposite of what happened). For example:
    Joe : Did you help her yesterday ? Because you usually were lazy
    Me : Yes, I would have helped her. [ The implied condition would be : "If she had seemed to need help"]

    Here I'm using "I would have helped her" even if the condition "If she had seemed to need help" actually happened in the past. It actually happened, she did seem to need help".
    But the reason I'm using would have in this way is not to talk about something that did not happen.
    But I'm talking about the situation in which I would have helped her. So even if the condition in the if clause happened, I can still use would have with an implied condition to talk about a situation in which I would not have lied to you.

    So In short, I'm using would / would have to talk about a situation in which I would do / would have done something and it does not necessarily mean it did not happen because it depends on how we use would have and would like this. It could mean that it actually happened, or it could mean that it did not actually happen.

    Am I now correct ?

    Finally to end this thread. This is my understanding. If I get it wrong. I would be glad to be corrected for the last time and I'll see what part of this topic I have to focus on to understand it properly.
    Thank you so much 🙏
     
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    pachanga7

    Senior Member
    English - US
    So, would in the use to talk about a moral stance is still a conditional would.
    I guess so. I’m not a complete authority on the formal grammatical terms. You were originally talking about habits and how to say you usually didn’t arrive late to class, and I think I already answered that on the other thread.
    From all the explanation given by you. Here's my conclusion :
    Saying "I would have helped her" doesn't necessarily mean that a condition did not happen or I did not help her (the opposite of what happened). For example:
    Joe : Did you help her yesterday ? Because you usually were lazy
    Me : Yes, I would have helped her. [ The implied condition would be : "If she had seemed to need help"]
    Nope. The implied condition COULD be X, not necessarily that it would be. And to respond that way would be incredibly evasive and illogical, I do not recommend that kind of answer to a direct question.

    “I would have helped her” was a shortened form that I used previously because of the context already established in the other thread. If that’s all you say, it implies you didn’t help, because the unspecified condition was not met. “I would have helped her in any way” leaves open the possibility you did help her in some way, but that some unspecified condition was not met for you to have helped her in any/every way.
    Here I'm using "I would have helped her" even if the condition "If she had seemed to need help" actually happened in the past. It actually happened, she did seem to need help".
    But the reason I'm using would have in this way is not to talk about something that did not happen.
    But I'm talking about the situation in which I would have helped her. So even if the condition in the if clause happened, I can still use would have with an implied condition to talk about a situation in which I would not have lied to you.

    So In short, I'm using would / would have to talk about a situation in which I would do / would have done something and it does not necessarily mean it did not happen because it depends on how we use would have and would like this. It could mean that it actually happened, or it could mean that it did not actually happen.

    Am I now correct ?

    Finally to end this thread. This is my understanding. If I get it wrong. I would be glad to be corrected for the last time and I'll see what part of this topic I have to focus on to understand it properly.
    Thank you so much 🙏
    I’m sorry, this is going around in so many circles I feel that I am in a circus. Better just sit with it for a while. Good luck.
     

    IMHO

    New Member
    American English
    To be brief and addressing what appear to be your major areas of confusion:

    >> "would" is always conditional, although the condition(s) are not always included in the statement.

    "So In short, I'm using would / would have to talk about a situation in which I would do / would have done something and it does not necessarily mean it did not happen because it depends on how we use would have and would like this. It could mean that it actually happened, or it could mean that it did not actually happen.

    Am I now correct ?"

    Sorry. It seems you are still a bit confused.


    >> "would have done something" always implies that the something was not done.
    The statement: "I would have protected my daughter," implies that you did not protect her for some reason, some condition that prevented you from providing that protection. It generally is not a statement likely to be made without that reason - the condition - being stated explicitly or being understood from the context of the conversation or situation.
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, if I had been there." > I did not protect her because I was not there.​
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, if she had ever needed protection." > I did not protect my daughter because she never needed protection.​
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, if I hadn't been busy eating a delicious soto ayam." > I didn't protect my daughter because I didn't want to stop enjoying eating my soto ayam.​
    For this reason, a "would have done something" statement is often accompanied by a "but" clause indicating the reason the something was not done.
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, but I was not there." ... I didn't because I was not there.​
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, but she never needed protection." ... I didn't because it was never necessary.​
    Ex.: "I would have protected my daughter, but I was too busy enjoying my soto ayam." ... I didn't because I was too busy.​
    Similarly, "would not have done something" always implies that the something was done.
    Ex.: "I would not have left home without an umbrella if I had known it was going to rain." > I left home without an umbrella. Maybe it rained. Maybe I got wet. From the single statement we don't know.
     
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