would/would have

Discussion in 'English Only' started by thetazuo, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. thetazuo

    thetazuo Senior Member

    China
    Chinese - China
    It was half seven; he mother would be annoyed because he was so late.

    Hi. I find this sentence in Collins Dictionary. I think we can say "would have been annoyed" here alternatively and "would" and "would have" mean the same thing here because both of them express assumption of a past situation. Right?

    Thank you!
     
  2. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    No, they mean different things. "His mother would have been annoyed" implies that she was not, for some reason. "His mother would have been annoyed (if she were still alive)...", for example.

    "His mother would be annoyed" is a predictive statement. Someone (he?) expects that his mother will be annoyed because he is late. However, since this is told in the past we shift "will" to "would".
     
  3. thetazuo

    thetazuo Senior Member

    China
    Chinese - China
    Thank you, JamesM. So this "would" does not express assumption of a past situation but just serves as backshifting of "will", as in reported speech, right?
     
  4. JamesM

    JamesM modo no mas :)

    That's how I read it.
     
  5. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    As a general observation, there are very, very few true synonyms in English - and that is true for verb forms. Sometimes it is possible to use more than one form of the verb, but there will always be a difference.
     

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