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Which of the following sentences is correct and why?

  1. Please note that I "will" be working on another script this month.

  2. Please note that I "would" be working on another script this month.

I should make this clear that the sentences above are not used in a text explaining past events. I know that "will" is used in the present tense. However, I am not sure if "would" can be used in some particular contexts in the present tense.

Can "would" be used to show politeness in the present tense? I mean when the author does not want to disappoint the asker by mentioning his busy schedule. The context is that the speaker is not available for a new project. However, he does not want to be rude to the asker and tells him politely about his schedule

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    What do you want to indicate? That you working on the script is a certainty (as the first implies), or that you won't work on the script? The second implies you intended to work on the script, but won't because of some undisclosed reason. – Evan M Jun 21 '13 at 19:09
  • Can "would" be used to show politeness in the present tense? I mean when the author does not want to disappoint the asker by mentioning his busy schedule. – seeeker Jun 21 '13 at 19:19
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    If what you mean is that would tends to be used in requests more often (e.g. "Would you please...?" instead of "Will you please...?"), then perhaps. That isn't to say, however, that would and will are interchangeable, for even in this example, the two sentences don't mean exactly the same thing. In your example replacing will with would would be making a tense error no matter how polite you are. – Kaiser Octavius Jun 21 '13 at 20:00
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    Perhaps you should be aiming to "reassure" your "client" in a polite way. What about this? "I want to reassure you that I will be working on the script this month" or "I want to reaffirm my commitment to working on the script this coming month." Is that what you are looking for? – Mari-Lou A Jun 21 '13 at 21:44
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    No, "would" in your polite sentence means you are not working on the script because of some drawback or impediment. You need to finish the sentence to make it more grammatical. "Please note that I "would" be working on another script this month, if I didn't have to work on this one." – Mari-Lou A Jun 24 '13 at 7:31
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+25

Your first example is correct most of the time. When speaking about something in the future, you will be doing it. When you've made plans to do something, and you are informing another person this is the form you'd use.

The second example is usable in some situations. You're dealing here with the "future in the past" tense, if I understand it correctly. This tense is often used when presented with new information that your prior plans may influence. We'll pretend that in your example, you are speaking to someone who has asked you to write a new script. You had already planned to write a different script.

From the link:

Future in the Past is used to express the idea that in the past you thought something would happen in the future. It does not matter if you are correct or not.

When you say "Please note that I would be working on another script this month", you're indicating that you already had plans to work on another script before the conversation. In general you would use this active-voice phrasing to let the addressee know that you still intend to work on said script, either instead of the new assignment or in conjunction with it.

If you were to use the passive voice ("Please note that I would have been working on another script this month") you would usually be indicating that while you had planned to work on a new script, you will no longer be doing so.

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Both would and will can be used in reference to a proposed future event. When the speaker is the agent of the future event, as in this case, will can be used both conditionally, to indicate that the event may or may not happen, and unconditionally, to indicate that the event is definitely going to happen:

I will be working on another script later this month.

I will work on another script later this month, if I have the time.

By contrast, would is typically only used conditionally, and usually implies that the speaker does not think the event will take place, or is flatly asserting that it will not:

I would work on another script later this month, if I thought I could find the time.

I would buy the tickets right now, if I had the money.

(Would is also sometimes used without the conditional to indicate a desire or wish—"I would speak with you, milord"—but this usage is archaic.)

To illustrate the difference, here's one way you could beg off politely:

I would like to help you with your project, but I will be working on another script this month, and so I will not have the time.

  • "I would speak with you" - Is 'would' in this example really archaic? I use it in everyday speaking alot, except I contract it. "I'd like to talk to you later.". I even double up on 'would' in my imperfect speech: "I'd like it if you'd make a run to the store later." (uncontracted, that becomes: "I would like it if you would make a run to the store later.") – Jamin Grey Jan 2 '14 at 6:01
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Either seems correct to me, in the given context. However, the connotations are slightly different. Will could imply that you plan to work on the new project, but won't be able to devote all of your time to it, whereas would might imply that you could work on the new project if absolutely necessary, but you'd really rather not (because of the other script).

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  1. The use of will seems like a more definite answer as no matter what happens with the current script you will work on another one
  2. The use of 'would' is a more of a conditional where will work on another script depending on what happens with the current script
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Both exact sentences (without additions like from the other answers) can be used, just depends on the context.

Question: What will you be doing this month?

Answer: Please note that I "will" be working on another script this month.

Question: Drop everything you have planned as I want you to work on my new project.

Answer: Please note that I "would" be working on another script this month.

protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 19:05

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