Let me see if something would…

Peter Thompson

Senior Member
Malaysian
Hi! I would like to ask a question.
I have seen this sentence : "Let me see if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement."
I am confused here because the sentence starts with "Let me see", but, after that 'would'  is used which does not fit, to me.
"Let me see" implies that something is expected to happen while using 'would' does not imply so.
Therefore, would anyone be able to help me explain why 'would' is used in that sentence and what is the meaning that the sentence has ?

Many Thanks 🙏
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    When was the sentence said/written? If it was written on a weekend morning, and so constitutes the post that is being considered, I agree that "would" sounds odd. However, if it isn't (yet) a weekend morning, and the writer is mulling over what they might do in the future, then "would" is fine. The writer is considering a future plan. The thing hasn't happened yet, and at the time it is written, it is only a theoretical possibility.

    "Would" for something in the future does not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening.

    What was the sentence written in response to, or what did it immediately follow? Context is vital in English, and it is often impossible to see why particular words were used just from a single sentence.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    When was the sentence said/written? If it was written on a weekend morning, and so constitutes the post that is being considered, I agree that "would" sounds odd. However, if it isn't (yet) a weekend morning, and the writer is mulling over what they might do in the future, then "would" is fine. The writer is considering a future plan. The thing hasn't happened yet, and at the time it is written, it is only a theoretical possibility.
    Two people talked to each other about social media and they talked about the future. And when I saw the sentence, I got confused because the sentence seems to talk about a real future because there is "Let me see" but 'would' is used which makes them not match, to me.

    "Would" for something in the future does not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening.
    Would you tell me how this is so ? Because If we use 'will' and 'would' in sentences, we know that using 'will' means something is expected to happen but using 'would' means that something is only imaginary which means that it is very unlikely to happen / will not happen. And from here we can see that using 'would' indicates the likelihood of the event's happening because using 'would' means that it is unlikely for something to happen.
    If I use 'would' in my sentence, will it not mean that it is just imaginary ? If something is hypothetical, does it not indicate that in the real future something is very unlikely/ will not happen because it is only in our head ? So, How does using 'would' not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening ? because using 'would' means that it is unlikely for something to happen
    Could you tell me how using 'would' does not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening ?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Here's a question: Did the speaker actually post on a weekend morning to see whether or not they got higher engagement, after having talked about it?

    Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two very different things. "Let me see" followed by "will" or the present tense is expected when the person immediately does the thing, but if the person isn't immediately able to do the thing (in the case of your scenario, it isn't a weekend morning, perhaps), then they might just be imagining doing it. "Let me see" is hardly conclusive that the person really intends doing the thing.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Here's a question: Did the speaker actually post on a weekend morning to see whether or not they got higher engagement, after having talked about it?

    Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two very different things. "Let me see" followed by "will" or the present tense is expected when the person immediately does the thing, but if the person isn't immediately able to do the thing (in the case of your scenario, it isn't a weekend morning, perhaps), then they might just be imagining doing it. "Let me see" is hardly conclusive that the person really intends doing the thing.
    I don't really know about that but it was a weekend morning when the speaker said it. All I really know is that the speaker said the sentence while talking about the future.

    But, could you tell me how using 'would' does not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening ? Maybe, from here I will know why 'would' is used in such sentence.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    But, could you tell me how using 'would' does not indicate the likelihood of the event's happening ? Maybe, from here I will know why 'would' is used in such sentence.
    Could you tell us why you insist that "would" does indicate the likelihood of somthing hypothetical (indicated by the word "if") actually occurring? You may have seen a "rule" that you think tells you that - please tell us where you saw that "rule".
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Let me see if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.
    I take it, from your first post, that you would expect this to read , 'Let me see if posting on a weekend will give me higher engagement?' - this would be perfectly logical : he intends to post on a weekend morning; the resultant engagement will the turn out to be higher or lower than his nowmal weekday posting gets. You are arguing (correct me if I'm wrong) that there seems to be no point in using 'would', since the structure 'Let me see if ...' means that you will do something from which the result will inevitably ensue and the result will inevitably be either A (higher engagement) or not-A, so the use of the conditional (which nornally indicates some sort of doubt or uncertainty) is unnecessary. I think that's true enough, but usage isn't only determined by logic, and I doubt if any native speaker would think twice about the use of 'would' here. Anyway, I would read it in a slightly different way, as if the speaker had in mind both a short-term experiment and a permanent procedure i.e. as if he were saying, 'Let me try posting on a weekend morning and see if it looks as though long-term it's likely to generate a higher engagement, which may make it worthwhile for me to change permanently to weekend morning posting; that is, the uncertainty of 'would' is understood as not simpy applying to the result of the experiment, but as suggesting the uncertainty about the permanent procedure which it might point to.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I see nothing at all wrong with the original.

    Would posting on a weekend morning give me higher engagement?
    Hmmm… let me see. Why don’t I give that a try and see what happens?
    Let me see if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.
    Let me see whether [or not] posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    I see nothing at all wrong with the original.

    Would posting on a weekend morning give me higher engagement?
    Hmmm… let me see. Why don’t I give that a try and see what happens?
    Let me see if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.
    Let me see whether [or not] posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.
    So, in your example, 'would' is used to indicate that it is only hypothetical ? Because I think if the speaker intends to do it, it's wrong to use 'would'.

    No. A hypothetical event may or may not happen: we don't know, so we can't say its likely or it's unlikely.
    If using 'would' still means that something is likely to happen, then what makes it different from using 'will' ? If something is likely, don't we use 'will' ? Why are you saying that there is no difference in likelihood between the two modal verbs ?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    So, in your example, 'would' is used to indicate that it is only hypothetical ? Because I think if the speaker intends to do it, it's wrong to use 'would'.


    If using 'would' still means that something is likely to happen, then what makes it different from using 'will' ? If something is likely, don't we use 'will' ? Why are you saying that there is no difference in likelihood between the two modal verbs ?
    Because zero is communicated about likelihood by the verb form when the item is hypothetical.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So, in your example, 'would' is used to indicate that it is only hypothetical ? Because I think if the speaker intends to do it, it's wrong to use 'would'.
    It’s not my example; it’s yours. And that comment makes no sense to me. You’re taking grammar guidance far too literally. These are all natural ways to say that sort of thing (which is akin to a rhetorical question: I wonder if such-and-such would work?), in my order of preference:

    Let me see if posting at a different time makes any difference.
    Let me see if posting at a different time would make any difference.
    Let me see if posting at a different time will make any difference.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    It’s not my example; it’s yours. And that comment makes no sense to me. You’re taking grammar guidance far too literally. These are all natural ways to say that sort of thing (which is akin to a rhetorical question: I wonder if such-and-such would work?), in my order of preference:

    Let me see if posting at a different time makes any difference.
    Let me see if posting at a different time would make any difference.
    Let me see if posting at a different time will make any difference.
    I'm confused that it uses 'would' and I don't know what would does as a hypothetical form. Especially that the sentence starts with "Let me see" which makes me sure that it should be 'will' that is used.
    What does 'would' do as a hypothetical form in that sentence ? What does it actually mean ? Is it used to soften the statement ? Or not ?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'm confused that it uses 'would' and I don't know what would does as a hypothetical form. Especially that the sentence starts with "Let me see" which makes me sure that it should be 'will' that is used.
    What does 'would' do as a hypothetical form in that sentence ? What does it actually mean ? Is it used to soften the statement ? Or not ?
    Yes, analysing native English speakers' language into neat rules is hard :)
     
    Last edited:

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Because I think if the speaker intends to do it, it's wrong to use 'would'.
    I'm confused that it uses 'would' and I don't know what would does as a hypothetical form. Especially that the sentence starts with "Let me see" which makes me sure that it should be 'will' that is used.
    What does 'would' do as a hypothetical form in that sentence ? What does it actually mean ? Is it used to soften the statement ? Or not ?
    If the speaker is going to do it there and then, I doubt they would use "would". As lingo points out, they probably wouldn't use "will" either, but use the present tense.

    "Let me see" does not necessarily mean that the speaker is going to do the thing there and then. They might not be going to do the thing at all. "Let me see" is common as a way of introducing a new thought that has just occurred, and is often paired with "I wonder...":
    Let me see. I wonder if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.​
    I am not saying that this is the meaning in your sentence, but it is a possibility. The idea is only half formed, and the speaker is still working it out, so naturally they use hypothetical forms. Future plans are often first talked about using hypothetical forms, and it might only be when they are agreed or decided upon that the language changes to real forms.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    If the speaker is going to do it there and then, I doubt they would use "would". As lingo points out, they probably wouldn't use "will" either, but use the present tense.

    "Let me see" does not necessarily mean that the speaker is going to do the thing there and then. They might not be going to do the thing at all. "Let me see" is common as a way of introducing a new thought that has just occurred, and is often paired with "I wonder...":
    Let me see. I wonder if posting on a weekend morning would give me higher engagement.​
    I am not saying that this is the meaning in your sentence, but it is a possibility. The idea is only half formed, and the speaker is still working it out, so naturally they use hypothetical forms. Future plans are often first talked about using hypothetical forms, and it might only be when they are agreed or decided upon that the language changes to real forms.
    Hi! I'm back to this topic with a new idea.
    I was thinking if we could use "would" to talk about the future without indicating whether it's likely or unlikely to happen in the following case :
    John : Hey, are you free tomorrow night ?
    Randy : Yes, why ?
    John : Nothing, I thought you were busy.
    Randy : No, I am not. Hmmm, do you want to play Playstation 5 tomorrow night in my house ?
    John : That's a good idea! But what if it rained tomorrow night ?
    Randy : If it rained, I would pick you up. Don't worry.


    Here, there is no proof that makes them sure that it will rain tomorrow night. But here, "would" is used not because it is unlikely to rain tomorrow night. They have two options, they can use "will" or "would" which means they can treat it as hypothetical or real and they choose "would" here without indicating that it is unlikely to rain tomorrow night.
    Is this scenario in which "would" is used works ?

    Thank you!
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What if it rained?
    If it rained, I would pick you up.

    This is a standard 2nd conditional, expressing the possibility of rain in a hypothetical way. There’s nothing wrong with it grammatically, but it’s not the most natural construction to use in such a scenario. Most people would express it as a 1st conditional:

    What if it rains?
    If it does, I’ll pick you up.

    In the event of rain, I will/would pick you up.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    What if it rained?
    If it rained, I would pick you up.

    This is a standard 2nd conditional, expressing the possibility of rain in a hypothetical way. There’s nothing wrong with it grammatically, but it’s not the most natural construction to use in such a scenario. Most people would express it as a 1st conditional:

    What if it rains?
    If it does, I’ll pick you up.

    In the event of rain, I will/would pick you up.
    So, expressing the rain event as hypothetical in that scenario is not natural ? Because the point of the sentence I would like to make is that "would" here does not say anything about the likelihood of it raining tomorrow night, they just express it in a hypothetical way.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So, expressing the rain event as hypothetical in that scenario is not natural ?
    I don’t understand how you can draw that conclusion from what I said – which was that the 2nd conditional version is less natural, not unnatural.

    But you’re right to say that what’s being discussed in that dialogue is not the likelihood of rain. The question is about what will/would be done in the event that (if) it does/did rain. Rain is presented as a possibility, not a probability.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    I don’t understand how you can draw that conclusion from what I said – which was that the 2nd conditional version is less natural, not unnatural.

    But you’re right to say that what’s being discussed in that dialogue is not the likelihood of rain. The question is about what will/would be done in the event that (if) it does/did rain. Rain is presented as a possibility, not a probability.
    Could you tell me why the first conditional is more natural than the second one when there's no difference in the likelihood of it raining if we use either ?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Could you tell me why the first conditional is more natural than the second one when there's no difference in the likelihood of it raining if we use either ?
    Just because there are many situations where hypothetical forms don't indicate likelihood doesn't mean that there are none at all. "If it rained" implies that you think it unlikely, but the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all, and using "rained" is only likely to confuse the person being spoken to.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Just because there are many situations where hypothetical forms don't indicate likelihood doesn't mean that there are none at all.
    Could you tell me what situations ? So that I might understand it better.

    "If it rained" implies that you think it unlikely, but the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all.
    What do you mean by "If it rained" implies that you think it unlikely, but the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all." ? Could you tell me specifically ?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    The bright tone of the question "But what if...?" does not suggest something so unlikely that would warrant using a hypothetical form.

    Hypothetical forms are used for reasons other than unlikelihood, such as avoiding any suggestion that something bad might happen, or out of politeness, but the weather just happens and there is no reason to be polite about it. The two of them, having arranged their date, about which both of them seem enthusiastic, are now just guarding against things happening to disrupt it. This is such an obvious situation for using type 1 conditionals that there would have to be something pretty extreme to change to a type 2.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    The bright tone of the question "But what if...?" does not suggest something so unlikely that would warrant using a hypothetical form.

    Hypothetical forms are used for reasons other than unlikelihood, such as avoiding any suggestion that something bad might happen, or out of politeness, but the weather just happens and there is no reason to be polite about it. The two of them, having arranged their date, about which both of them seem enthusiastic, are now just guarding against things happening to disrupt it. This is such an obvious situation for using type 1 conditionals that there would have to be something pretty extreme to change to a type 2.
    Thank you for the explanation!

    One thing I'm still confused about the topic is that you say this in #23 : "If it rained" implies that you think it unlikely, but the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all."
    What I'm confused about is that you say that saying "if it rained" implies that I think it unlikely but you go on and say that the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all. What does it mean ? That's the part I'm confused about. First you say that saying "if it rained" implies that I think it unlikely but you also say that the question doesn't suggest unlikelihood at all. And I don't understand that part. Would you explain ? Thank you!
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Meaning in English is conveyed primarily by context. Here, we have two people making an arrangement about the future that they are both enthusiastic about, and now they are looking at some of the details. This is an obvious time to use type 1 conditionals.

    However, we also need to look at the words actually spoken. This isn't, as I said, a time to use a type 2 conditional for anything ordinary - it is not like considering alternative future plans before coming to some arrangement, where using type 2 conditionals is standard. There are several reasons for using type 2 conditionals, which include things such as the speaker thinking the situation unlikely, or not wanting to cause offence. The only reason that could reasonably apply to the weather is unlikelihood, except that this does not fit. This is such a clear situation for using type 1 conditionals that to use a type 2 would require something pretty exceptional. Rain is such an ordinary thing to happen, and the speaker's bright tone with "but what if...?" does not suggest anything out of the ordinary at all.

    The "unlikelihood" use of a type 2 conditional is generally only used for things so unlikely the probability barely exists at all. In a more serious situation, a team designing a building in the north west of England might ask "What if there were an earthquake?" using the past tense to show that an earthquake in Blackpool is such an unlikely occurrence the question is more theoretical than practical.

    In short, you are trying to use a type 2 conditional in a situation where it does not belong.
     
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