English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Do both of the sentences have the same meaning?

Did he eat something?

Would he eat something?

I've heard would can also be used to refer to things that happened in the past.

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Jasper Loy, Mitch, kiamlaluno, jwpat7 Apr 26 '12 at 16:31

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Think about these alternates: "would I lie to you?" vs "did I lie to you?". The distinction is the same. – Matt E. Эллен Apr 22 '12 at 17:15
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The first asks a question about the past. The second asks a question about the future on the assumption that certain conditions, unexpressed in your example, are fulfilled.

When would is used about past events or actions it does so to show that someone acted against advice (‘He would eat it when I told him not to’) or to describe something that was habitual (‘He would eat five burgers every day’).

share|improve this answer

No, both the sentences DO NOT have the same meaning.

  1. Did he eat something? This means, if the person really eat something. It does not matter whether he likes it or not.

  2. Would he eat something? This means, it is upto a person whether he would like to eat something. His decision of eating is dependant upon his liking, his mood, his ability.

The first one if more casual, whereas the second one is more conditional.

share|improve this answer
upto is a "Common misspelling of up to" and dependant an "Obsolete spelling of dependent" or "(US) Common misspelling of dependent" except in UK usage as a noun. – jwpat7 Apr 22 '12 at 19:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.