What is the historical evolution of "Would".

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selfzhouxinrong

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello::)

Etymonline says:
would:Old English wolde, past tense and past subjunctive of willan "to will" (see will (v.)). Would-be (adj.) "wishing to be, vainly pretending" is first recorded c. 1300.

I want to know:
1. Are "past tense" and "past subjunctive" different?
2. Why "Would you like......" is more polite than "Will you like......"?( could, should, would, might )
3. Why can the past tense express subjunctive?
:confused::confused:
Does any one know that?

Thank you.:thank you: :thank you: :thank you:
 
  • bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    I don't presume to speak for others but you probably know more about it than we do. The modern English speaker would barely be able to understand Middle English (and that's being kind) and Old English would be complete gibberish. Even Shakespeare spoke Early Modern English.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don't presume to speak for others but you probably know more about it than we do. The modern English speaker would barely be able to understand Middle English (and that's being kind) and Old English would be complete gibberish. Even Shakespeare spoke Early Modern English.
    Well, Chaucer's Middle English always looked pretty intelligible to me (at least as long as it remains written; after all, the Modern English orthography largely goes back right to Middle English, despite all the phonetic shifts which occured since then). Old English is an entirely different matter, of course. I have a passive knowledge of German, which is really helpful, but even then I understand only fragments.
    Anyway, we've digressed, I'm sorry for that.
     

    bandini

    Senior Member
    inglés gabacho
    Well, Chaucer's Middle English always looked pretty intelligible to me (at least as long as it remains written; after all, the Modern English orthography largely goes back right to Middle English, despite all the phonetic shifts which occured since then). Old English is an entirely different matter, of course. I have a passive knowledge of German, which is really helpful, but even then I understand only fragments.
    Anyway, we've digressed, I'm sorry for that.

    That's encouraging. Of course I was referring to the spoken language. The average user of Middle English couldn't read or write, anyway. I sometimes have trouble understanding Australians! LOL
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Are "past tense" and "past subjunctive" different?
    Yes, if we say "past tense" we (normally) mean "past indicative".
    Why "Would you like......" is more polite than "Will you like......"?( could, should, would, might )
    Past subjective, which expresses hypotheticalness, is a quite natural choice for sounding more polite in conjunction with a request. Ultimately those are frozen phrases and they just are what they are even without any "why?" but in logic behind these phrases seem sufficiently obvious.
    Why can the past tense express subjunctive?
    Tense and mood are different categories. There is present indicative and past indicative and there is present subjunctive and past subjunctive. But that is their historical origin. Today, present and past subjunctive have lost their tense connotation and now simply express different moods. Present subjunctive describes a wish or demand and past subjunctive a hypothetical condition.
     
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