would and is

sadnesess

Senior Member
Sundanese
Is it still correct if I replace "would" with "is" here? If so, is there any the difference?

We decided to look at how some of the UK press described this contender for goal of the tournament from Schick and so we’ll start with The Guardian who called it, ‘… a booming curler over the keeper’. The word ‘curler‘ describes the direction of the shot – the player curled or bent the ball over the keeper – while the word ‘booming‘ describes the power with which Schick hit the ball; a booming strike would be a really hard shot for example.

... a booming strike would be a really hard shot for example.

...a booming strike is a really hard shot for example.
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks. But how does "would" work in that sentence? Tentative or hypothetical? I'm confused
    Would is one of the most ambiguous words in the English language. Native speakers just don’t care. They hardly register any ambiguity.
    Conditional: if someone said “booming shot” it would mean…
    Tentative: a likely meaning of “booming shot” might be…
     

    sadnesess

    Senior Member
    Sundanese
    Would is one of the most ambiguous words in the English language. Native speakers just don’t care. They hardly register any ambiguity.
    Conditional: if someone said “booming shot” it would mean…
    Tentative: a likely meaning of “booming shot” might be...
    Conditional: in fact: someone doesn't say ”booming strike", so it will not mean...,

    Is my understanding right?
     

    sadnesess

    Senior Member
    Sundanese
    This paraphrase does not look very conditional to me. In English conditional sentences usually have the word “if” in them.
    Well, for example:

    She would pass the exam if she ever studied.(She never studies, so this won't happen.)
    Now in the sentence if someone said “booming shot” it would mean... (Someone doesn't say "booming short, so it won't mean...)

    Is my understanding right?
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks. But how does "would" work in that sentence? Tentative or hypothetical? I'm confused
    "Would" doesn't have to be "tentative" or "hypothetical" to work in that sentence.

    The real issue with "would" (as with all modal modal verbs) is that it has basically two uses: (1) where the speaker is making some sort of judgment/conclusion based on evidence; (2) where there is a sense of obligation/persuasion/willingness to do something under certain circumstances. (1) has the technical name of "epistemic modality;" (2) has the technical label "deontic modality." That's the key distinction, whether "would" is epistemic or deontic.

    And so in your example,

    a booming strike would be a really hard shot

    "would" is the epistemic use of this modal verb. It's a judgment/conclusion by the speaker based on knowledge of how the sport is played. Is there any meaningful difference with respect to,

    a booming strike is a really hard shot

    ?

    Not really. Instead of a modal verb, you have auxiliary be ("is"), a verb that primarily plays grammatical functions (such as introducing "tense"). But the idea of "judgment/conclusion" still prevails in the overall sense of the sentence. If you wish, call "would be" subjective conclusion (from the perspective of the speaker), and "is" objective conclusion (from the perspective of how the game is played). Either way, subject conclusion or objective conclusion, it's epistemic would at work.

    By the way, here is an example of deontic would.

    I'm sorry, I don't open my restaurants on Mondays.
    Oh, if I came on Monday, you would.


    The speaker is imposing on obligation ("open the restaurant") on the part of the owner of the establishment. Deontic would is particularly stressed.

    If you want to look at additional evaluations (tentative, hypothetical, polite, etc.), you have to look at the overall context. Even if it's not, for example, "hypothetical," would still is epistemic, which is what really matters.
     

    nightowl666

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    "Would" doesn't have to be "tentative" or "hypothetical" to work in that sentence.
    Thanks for your detailed explanation with professional astuteness, from which I have learned a lot about the workings of the English language.
    Regarding the use of "would" or "is", could I say that "would" means a possibility, while "is" means an affirmative judgment?
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks for your detailed explanation with professional astuteness, from which I have learned a lot about the workings of the English language.
    Regarding the use of "would" or "is", could I say that "would" means a possibility, while "is" means an affirmative judgment?
    Yes, that works for me.
     
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