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maestrowork
03-21-2007, 12:33 AM
Which is correct, or in what context?

"You won't believe what just happened."

"You wouldn't believe what just happened."

Mr. Fix
03-21-2007, 12:36 AM
You would not believe... Past tense 'You wouldn't'

You will not believe... Present tense 'You won't'

I'm no grammer expert, but this seems to me to fit the difference.

Flay
03-21-2007, 02:34 AM
It depends on the context:

"You won't believe what just happened, but I'm going to tell you anyway."

"You wouldn't believe what just happened, so I won't bother telling you."

Mr. Fix
03-21-2007, 02:37 AM
It depends on the context:

"You won't believe what just happened, but I'm going to tell you anyway." (present event)

"You wouldn't believe what just happened, so I won't bother telling you." (Past event)

Just thinking...

maestrowork
03-21-2007, 02:42 AM
No both are in present tense, just for comparison's sake. In past tense, it would be:

"He wouldn't believe what had just happened."

Flay
03-21-2007, 02:47 AM
"Won't" in your first example implies futurity: "When I tell you what just happened, you will not believe it."

maestrowork
03-21-2007, 02:49 AM
Ah, I think I am getting it. But what does "you wouldn't mean" in the second case?

blacbird
03-21-2007, 02:51 AM
I think I'd just shorten it to:

"Damn!"

caw

TheIT
03-21-2007, 03:04 AM
Ah, I think I am getting it. But what does "you wouldn't mean" in the second case?

"If I told you, you wouldn't believe it."

The "wouldn't" implies that I'm making a judgment call on what I think you'll believe, but I'm not necessarily going to test the theory by telling you.

Try this example:

"You won't go with me to the movies." -- I have no doubt that you'll stay home.

"You wouldn't go with me to the movies." -- I'm of the opinion that if I asked you, you would not go.

Hope this helps.

maestrowork
03-21-2007, 03:06 AM
So "would" is a subjunctive mood, and the "if" is implied.

Rich
03-21-2007, 03:07 AM
I'd go with either, but without the contractions.

TheIT
03-21-2007, 03:09 AM
So "would" is a subjunctive mood, and the "if" is implied.

Yes, I believe so. "Would" implies a hypothetical situation. "Will" implies fact.

Birol
03-21-2007, 03:10 AM
To carry through on TheIT's example:

Example 1:

HIM: Why didn't you ask me to go to the movies with you?
HER: Would you have gone if I asked?
HIM: No, but it would've been nice if you'd asked.
HER: That's why I didn't. I knew you wouldn't go, so I didn't bother to ask.


Example 2:

HIM: Why don't you ask me to go to the movies with you?
HER: Will you go if I ask?
HIM: No. I just like to be asked.
HER: That's why I won't. You won't go, so I'm not going to bother to ask.

Rob B
03-21-2007, 03:10 AM
I've got 19 books on grammar sitting on a shelf above my computer monitor,
and after looking through 6 of them, I'm not sure, but aren't Would Not and Will Not two different voices. Will Not sounds emphatic to me (I won't do it), and I think it's in the active future indicative tense; Would Not seems like it would be passive future indicative. Would Not might be one of those nasty
"tell and not show" creatures that rear up every so often. Tough question.

However, if you want to ignore the aforementioned and apply it to inflection only, which was my first thought until I started looking into it, here's what Barzun states: (Quote) "When the idea of willing is involved, the 'will' has point...in short, there is a would and a will that mean desire, determination, and a similar pair that serve as auxiliaries without such a meaning. The former are rarely used and and they lead to trouble when not intended."

But if one choosed solely on Voice, another passage in Barzun litany of evil grammar states: [This ain't a quote, but it's close] "an earlier or later verb tense (if you should have another in your sentence) will determine 'will' or 'would.'" Now there's a whole lot more he writes on this, but the meat is: ''would' applies to indicating matters of fact and realities that are and (occasionally) will be." "Will" has no such no wiggle room (that's my opinion and not Dr. Jacque's).

Find an easier question next time, okay? Just kidding. Hope this is accurate, but I'd get other opinions. I could be missing something.

Sage
03-21-2007, 03:11 AM
To carry through on TheIT's example:

Example 1:

HIM: Why didn't you ask me to go to the movies with you?
HER: Would you have gone if I asked?
HIM: No, but it would've been nice if you'd asked.
HER: That's why I didn't. I knew you wouldn't go, so I didn't bother to ask.


Example 2:

HIM: Why don't you ask me to go to the movies with you?
HER: Will you go if I ask?
HIM: No. I just like to be asked.
HER: That's why I won't. You won't go, so I'm not going to bother to ask.
The difference in these examples seem to be past tense vs. present, though.

Rolling Thunder
03-21-2007, 03:31 AM
I would help but pigs frighten me, so I won't. :)

Rich
03-21-2007, 03:39 AM
I was going by the original text--more like where emphasis was needed. And that made me think of eliminating contractions (still holding to my belief that either would work just as well.) This was dialogue, wasn't it?

Judg
03-22-2007, 09:01 AM
Whoa, hold on people! This is, on the grammatical level, one of the most confused threads I have ever seen.

They are both correct English sentences. Flay has done a good job of explaining what they mean. The attempts to nail down the grammar of it have been... inventive.

There is no change of voice here; both sentences are active. We have one sentence in the future "will not believe", and one in the conditional "would not believe". (It's a bit of a moot point whether the conditional is a mood in English or not. Most people recognize only two moods in English: indicative and subjunctive. One thing for sure: would is not a subjunctive.) The subordinate clause is in the simple past tense in both cases.

In any event, neither sentence is in the present or the past.