Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Should or Would (Confusing Words Part 11 of 12)

In general, the rule for the use of shall and will apply—if you're making the distinction I pointed out in the previous blog. But I don't know anyone who still does that for this pair of words. That battle seems long lost for grammarians.

However, there is a broad difference in the two words. Should implies obligation or duty and would refers to habitual action.

* I should leave immediately to catch my scheduled flight.

* Harvey would take a walk every day.

* You should learn to relax and enjoy your life.

* Lincoln once quipped, "If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"

Here's another point that many writers don't notice. When we're writing about habitual action, use would only the first time. After that, write in the past tense and you won't need the word again.

Example: At Mariah's house, we would eat our lunch at 11:30 and then we went into the garden to pick vegetables. After that, we lay in the sun for twenty minutes and then raced to the mail box.

Otherwise, you'd have to write: At Mariah's house, we would eat our lunch at 11:30 and then we would go into the garden to pick vegetables. After that we would lie in the sun for twenty minutes and then we would race to the mail box.

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