I would hate to see a tragedy there.

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Bob8964

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello, here is a sentence in a news report on the internet, in which a mother expressed her deep concerns at the traffic chaos outside a school (source: Families fear 'tragedy' after school left without crossing point on busy road):

I would hate to see a tragedy there.

I think "would hate" is usually used in a hypothetical situation, e.g., I would hate to be in his shoes. So I wonder why she didn't simply say:

I don't want to see a tragedy there.
 
  • Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    It is a hypothetical situation.

    It means: If there was an accident (a tragedy), I would hate to hear about it.
     

    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is a hypothetical situation.

    It means: If there was an accident (a tragedy), I would hate to hear about it.
    Thank you! But you haven't sloved the problem. I'd like to know the difference between "would hate" and "don't want" in this case.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Hello, here is a sentence in a news report on the internet, in which a mother expressed her deep concerns at the traffic chaos outside a school (source: Families fear 'tragedy' after school left without crossing point on busy road):

    I would hate to see a tragedy there.

    I think "would hate" is usually used in a hypothetical situation, e.g., I would hate to be in his shoes. So I wonder why she didn't simply say:

    I don't want to see a tragedy there.
    One way or the other (would hate; don't want), it's hypothetical; no tragedy has occurred. You won't find a difference in terms of syntax. It's really about semantics, and that's in the eye of the beholder. One way to look at it is that "would" goes to the linguistic notion of "attenuation," which is way of lessening the force of what you say (but not the meaning of what you say). So, if you think that "don't want" might come across as too upfront, direct, etc., you can turn to "would hate," which carries the same message, but in a more "polite" way.

    Another way to look at it is that "would hate" conveys a greater degree of emotional involvement on the part of the speaker (whereas "don't want" might be regarded as more objective in nature). But take all this with a grain of salt. Another mother, from the same school, could just as easily go with "don't want," so that "would hate" and "don't want" become contextually equivalent. The basic point is that both constructions get the same point across; everybody is concerned about safety.
     
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