wheels <wouldn’t> retract


Senior Member
Good morning, everyone.

An example sentence of retract in Longman Advanced American Dictionary: One of the plane’s wheels wouldn’t retract. (Just an example sentence, no further context)

What does would mean in this sentence?
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    grassy is right. "Wouldn't" is what we would say if we meant a human (or animal) refuses to do something: "My son wouldn't do his homework."

    But we use the same form for a machine or other inanimate object that doesn't do what we want it to without thinking we are attributing intention to it: "The wheel wouldn't retract," "The door wouldn't close," and so on.
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