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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Would vs Should in conditionals    

Would vs Should in conditionals



ninon100
Russian Federation

Would vs Should in conditionals
 
Dear colleagues,
is there any difference in meaning or frequency of use?
If I knew about it, I wouldn ´t ask you.
If I knew about it, I shouldn ´t ask you.
 
What ´s used more often in your country? Is it a question of old/modern use nowadays?
Please help :) Thanks in advance. 

29 Nov 2015      



Mariethe House
France

Dear ninon
 
 
You should watch it
If I were you, I would watch it! Wink

PS I guess Almaz , our grammar specialist,will give you more information when he´s awakeSmile

29 Nov 2015     



ninon100
Russian Federation

Well, thanks for your comment, but the video doesn ´t explain this particular case.

29 Nov 2015     



cunliffe
United Kingdom

The natural utterance would be: ´If I knew about it, I wouldn ´t ask you. ´ This implies volition - if I knew about it, I wouldn ´t really be choosing to ask you. ´ Using ´shouldn ´t ´ pertains to correct behaviour. As in, asking you would not be the right thing for me to do and that is not what is implied here.  
Using ´should´ in this sense, is, as you suggest, a bit outdated. 
 
 
 
 

29 Nov 2015     



Tapioca
United Kingdom

Nowadays, it ´s true that we tend to reserve ´should ´ and ´shouldn ´t ´ for talking about advice (and as Lynne said, correct behaviour for example). But it may be that these two examples are not about any difference in meaning, but only  what is modern common usage.
 
So, for example, "I shouldn ´t wish to disturb you" and "I wouldn ´t wish to disturb you" are identical in meaning, but the first is seen as more old fashioned and literary.
 
If your students read Jane Austen, they might very well see ´If I knew about it, I shouldn ´t ask you. ´ It ´s genteel and (to me anyway) quite attractive, but it could easily confuse a language student, so I would stick to teaching your first sentence. :-)
 
Tap

29 Nov 2015     



cunliffe
United Kingdom

Well put, Tap; that usage is outdated and yes, would seem very genteel...What a lovely old word!

29 Nov 2015     



ohermann
Czech Republic

Tap, do you mean it is the same or similar as the outdated usage of shall in the first person in the future tense?

29 Nov 2015     



Tapioca
United Kingdom

Hi Oto, yes I guess it ´s similar to shall and will in first person statements about the future. Very few people use shall now in that context. In the past some books would argue that there were differences between them, but most people used them interchangeably. In fact the last time I think I saw it used outside of a question was in a contract. Although it was third person, it still looked like it belonged to another age. Lawyers seem to love hanging on to archaic vocabulary in case someone moves the semantic goalposts and it can result in very inelegant language. :-(
 
 
Tap

29 Nov 2015     



yanogator
United States

Yes, Oto, since "should" and "would" are the past and conditional forms of "shall" and "will", that ´s exactly what it is.
 
Bruce 

29 Nov 2015     



ninon100
Russian Federation

Thanks everyone, that settles it.
A little story from my student past: About 20 years ago I was studying this will/shall difference and was having a hard time telling the difference. That ´s why I asked a British native speaker: How will you say: "I will..." or "I shall"?
The reply was fantastic. I still quote it to my students:
"I will say "I shall".
Curtain falls :)
 

30 Nov 2015