It would mean vs It would seem

everestdude

Senior Member
hindi
A: He still hasn’t called me. It WOULD mean that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

B: A: He still hasn’t called me. It WOULD seem that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

I know capitalized would in sentence A is incorrect because of a real situation. Why is capitalized would in sentence B correct? It’s a real situation too. With the exact same context, would in sentence A is incorrect and in B is correct? Why is that? Can somebody explain it to me please?
 
  • Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The verb "to seem" does not relate to a necessarily real situation. It relates to a hypothetical situation that may or may not be true.

    Emergency service on phone: Is the subject still conscious?
    Caller: He seems to be conscious. However, I am not sure because he won't speak to me or nod his head.
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    The verb "to seem" does not relate to a necessarily real situation. It relates to a hypothetical situation that may or may not be true.

    Emergency service on phone: Is the subject still conscious?
    Caller: He seems to be conscious. However, I am not sure because he won't speak to me or nod his head.
    Thank you very much for your help. But I can still say “would seem” in your example with real situation.

    Emergency service on phone: Is the subject still conscious?
    Caller: He would seem to be conscious.

    Can I not say this? If yes, how is would correct in a real situation?
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...
    Emergency service on phone: Is the subject still conscious?
    Caller: He would seem to be conscious.
    ...
    You could say this. However it sounds rather odd. If I was the Emergency responder, it would make me think that you couldn't actually see the patient but had heard that he was conscious from someone else, or could not observe directly.

    Example

    Emergency service on phone: Is the subject still conscious?
    Caller: He would seem to be conscious. I can't see directly, but the man who is looking after him has just given me a thumbs up.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    A: He still hasn’t called me. It WOULD mean that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

    B: A: He still hasn’t called me. It WOULD seem that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

    I know capitalized would in sentence A is incorrect because of a real situation. Why is capitalized would in sentence B correct? It’s a real situation too. With the exact same context, would in sentence A is incorrect and in B is correct? Why is that? Can somebody explain it to me please?

    The speaker doesn't exactly know why he hasn't called, but he is making some sort of judgment/conclusion. In that context, "seems" is what you need.

    Interestingly, in Old English, the verb "seem" meant "to think," and that link continued into Middle English. That's why, in Shakespeare, when a character says Me thinks, the meaning is It seems to me. In Modern English, however, "seems" has almost no intrinsic meaning. That's why it's odd (at least to my ears) to ask, "What would it seem if he hasn't called?" but it's fine to ask "What would it mean if he hasn't called?" because "mean" has inherent meaning.

    The meaning of "mean" is "signify," so it adds a note of certainty as to why he hasn't called, but you really don't know why he hasn't called. Using "mean," therefore, is counterintuitive.

    Since "seems" doesn't have meaning in and of itself, it doesn't create any conflict; it's not counterintuitive/contrary to expectation: it would seem that he hasn't arrived in India yet.
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    The speaker doesn't exactly know why he hasn't called, but he is making some sort of judgment/conclusion. In that context, "seems" is what you need.

    Interestingly, in Old English, the verb "seem" meant "to think," and that link continued into Middle English. That's why, in Shakespeare, when a character says Me thinks, the meaning is It seems to me. In Modern English, however, "seems" has almost no intrinsic meaning. That's why it's odd (at least to my ears) to ask, "What would it seem if he hasn't called?" but it's fine to ask "What would it mean if he hasn't called?" because "mean" has inherent meaning.

    The meaning of "mean" is "signify," so it adds a note of certainty as to why he hasn't called, but you really don't know why he hasn't called. Using "mean," therefore, is counterintuitive.

    Since "seems" doesn't have meaning in and of itself, it doesn't create any conflict; it's not counterintuitive/contrary to expectation: it would seem that he hasn't arrived in India yet.
    Thank you again for your time and response. I guess my question is as follows.

    A/ He still hasn’t called me. That would mean that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.
    Vs.
    B: He still hasn’t called me. That means that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

    My question is why is would in sentence A incorrect? I guess my sentence B is the correct one. Why can’t I use would in sentence A?
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    Added to previous thread.
    Cagey, moderator

    A: He still hasn’t called me. It would mean that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.
    B: A: He still hasn’t called me. It would seem that he hasn’t arrived in India yet; otherwise he would’ve called me.

    Here are my questions regarding the sentences above.

    1: Are the sentences above correct?

    2: I was told the use of would in sentence A is incorrect with “mean” and would in sentence B is correct with “seem”. Do you agree with that?

    3: If you do agree with that, my biggest question is why is would in sentence A incorrect and would in sentence B correct with the same context? How come I can’t say “would mean” in sentence A but can say “would seem” in sentence B?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Planta

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Hi everestdude

    It would seem that indicates that the writer is expressing what he/she believes is happening - what he/she is speculating and there is some uncertainty about that.
    It would mean that is usually used when referring to what the result of something might be in a conditional sentence, e.g., if she missed her flight, it would mean that she would not see her family for a long time.

    Somebody else might explain it better, but I thought I would try!
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I would not use the first "would" in the first sentence. The fact that he hasn't called me must mean that he is not in India yet. Otherwise, he would have called me.

    "It would seem" is more indirect, and the second sentence is fine.
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    Hi everestdude

    It would seem that indicates that the writer is expressing what he/she believes is happening - what he/she is speculating and there is some uncertainty about that.
    It would mean that is usually used when referring to what the result of something might be in a conditional sentence, e.g., if she missed her flight, it would mean that she would not see her family for a long time.

    Somebody else might explain it better, but I thought I would try!
    Thank you very much for reply. Why can’t I use “would mean” in a way to speculate just like the second sentence with “would seem”? Why is “would seem” not conditional but “would mean” is conditional? This is my biggest confusion.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    In "It would seem," "it" is what we call a "dummy it," with no specific reference.

    My boyfriend is cheating on me. It would seem our relationship is over.
    (In the second sentence, "it" doesn't refer to anything in particular; just to the existence of the situation.)

    We don't use a dummy "it" with "it would mean." "It" has to refer to something specific.

    If my boyfriend cheated on me, it would mean our relationship was over.
    (Here, "it" refers to the boyfriend cheating.)
     

    everestdude

    Senior Member
    hindi
    In "It would seem," "it" is what we call a "dummy it," with no specific reference.

    My boyfriend is cheating on me. It would seem our relationship is over.
    (In the second sentence, "it" doesn't refer to anything in particular; just to the existence of the situation.)

    We don't use a dummy "it" with "it would mean." "It" has to refer to something specific.

    If my boyfriend cheated on me, it would mean our relationship was over.
    (Here, "it" refers to the boyfriend cheating.)
    Thank you very much for your reply. I have one more question though. Can we use “it” that refers to something specific with “it would seem”? What kind of verbs can I use with “it would” for “it” to refer to the existence of the situation besides “seem”? What kind of verbs are they?
     
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