1. James Random
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    James Random Member

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    Grammar Use of the word 'would'.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by James Random, Oct 13, 2016.

    There are times that I will roleplay. I enjoy the writing exercise.

    I have, however, noticed that some people tend to do this when writing their post/prose:

    John would walk into the bar and look around.

    John would look over at the woman and smile.

    I'm wondering if there's a word for this phenomena of putting 'would' here, and whether it is appropriate to do so? I know it's not past habit, since they're always writing in the present tense.
     
  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Get rid of 'would' and add 'ed' as a suffix to either of those, and it still keeps the sentence intact. :p
    Or to keep the present tense get rid of 'would' and use a synonym for the adjective/verb after John. :)
     
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  3. James Random
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    James Random Member

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    Yeah, I get that. It's not something I do myself, but something I see others do. They do it somewhat frequently. I was just wondering whether the phenomenon had a name in grammar?
     
  4. Kara Gatsby
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    Kara Gatsby Member

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    I don't think it has an actual name, maybe just a by-product of their thought process that kind of 'slips out' and ends up on the page. Personally, I find it distracting because it calls attention to the fact that you're actually role playing: John isn't a real person, but if he was, this is what he would do.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, it's called the degradation of complex verb tenses, moods, and aspects in the English language. :bigfrown:

    The construction in your examples has two correct purposes:

    The first purpose - assuming we leave the sentences untouched - is to indicate that this is a recurring event. This is technically referred to as the imperfect or imperfective aspect. This concept encapsulates something that is ongoing or that happens on a recurring basis. If this idea of recurrence is not meant, then we have a misuse of verb aspect. We are using the construction of recurrence to indicate a one-time event.

    The second purpose of the construction would require us to flesh out a missing portion to make it complete. This would be subjunctive mood, which indicates various states of unreality such as wish, emotion, possibility, judgment, opinion, obligation, or action that has not yet occurred. What's missing is either a question to which these phrases are an answer (What would John do in this situation?) or we need to set up the two sides of a subjunctive statement to make it complete and correct.


    ETA: One could argue that in an RP, the question of What would John do in this situation? is ever-present; thus, continuously answering in the subjunctive is justified, but if that's what's giving rise to the phenomenon you note, I feel this a pretty weak justification. If everything is a subjunctive answer to an ever-present question, how does one indicate a more specific subjunctive event within this envelope of subjunctivity?
     
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the need for more context. I agree with @Wreybies, but I still feel the need for context, because I know I've seen this and been annoyed by it, but I can't assemble the context in my head, and I'm curious.
     
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  7. iprevaricate
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    iprevaricate New Member

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    I don't know what its called, but the reason "would" shows up in roleplay is that the appearance of another character can affect and change what would have happened in the original post.

    John would do the previously stated things, unless something happens to change his course. However, the word definitely ends up over-used and placed inappropriately. As a roleplayer using "he would" feels necessary at times and especially for physical interaction (he would punch Jerry in the face) because what happens in the next post can alter things a lot.
     

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