Would vs Present simple

Peter Thompson

Senior Member
Malaysian
Hi. I'm trying to differentiate these sentences below :
1. I would never hurt you. I would tell you the truth
2. I never hurt you. I tell you the truth

I've seen a lot of people use "I would" to talk about something that they generally do as in the first sentence above.
What's the explanation for that ?

Many Thanks!
 
  • Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    Yes, but that's conveyed in the form of a hypothetical: I would never hurt you no matter the situation that might arise.
    Can we still use that form even if it's something that generally happens ?
    For example :
    "I would hurt you if you forced me to hurt them" <- here I'm talking about my friend forcing me to hurt my other friends and the sentence is meant to mean that I'm generally forced by my friend, and I generally hurt my friend if my friend forces me to hurt my other friends. Is this possible?

    To express that something is actually generally true, can we still do that using the hypothetical form ?
    Because the hypothetical form usually means that the situation is not true
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The scenario in #3 is a very weird and irrelevant one, which hopefully everyone will ignore.

    I would never do that is a sort of promise. It’s not a declaration that you never do something. As grassy says, it’s an assurance that in no circumstances would you ever do it.

    It’s not even clear what you mean by using would to express something that’s “actually generally true”. It can indeed express actual past actions, when used in the sense of “used to” in indicative statements. But that’s unconnected with your example in this thread.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    I would never do that is a sort of promise. It’s not a declaration that you never do something. As grassy says, it’s an assurance that in no circumstances would you ever do it.
    I would say that 'would' here means in certain circumstances and it doesn't have the same meaning as present simple.
    For example : "I would tell you the truth" is not the same as "I tell you the truth"
    In "I would tell you the truth" is more of telling the circumstances in which I would tell the truth to you. Whereas "I never lie to you" is more of telling that it's something that I never do.

    Both can me the same , for example "I would never hurt you" can mean the same as "I never hurt you" because both mean in no circumstances I hurt you. But the "would" version is more hypothetical, something that we imagine happening.

    Is my interpretation correct ?
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    What do you mean by "not true"? The speaker believes the statement to be true, unless of course he or she is a liar.
    "I would buy a house if I won the lottery"
    That's what I meant by "not true". The situation is not true, I am not going to buy. The fact of me winning the lottery is not true.
     
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