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In friends, the drama, I heard this sentences. but I couldn't understand what 'would' means.

I can't believe you would have a 30 year old daugther! And you! I can't believe you would have a tux that's 30 years old!

Having a 30 year old daugther and tux was already true. Then, why did he use 'would' in this sentence? Is this like meaning of 'might'?

1 Answer 1

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It's making the verbs subjunctive. "I can't believe you have a 30-year-old daughter!", with the indicative, means that the speaker is questioning whether the person actually has such a daughter. With the "would" added, it instead questions whether they are the sort of person who would have a 30-year-old daughter.

For comparison, consider these two sentences.

"Do you write music for zebras?"

vs

"Would you write music for zebras?"

The second isn't focused so much on whether or not you actually do write such music. The subjunctive makes it "less vivid", so it focuses instead on whether you're the sort of person who writes zebra music.

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  • Wow! thank you for your answer! I totally get what 'would' means now:)
    – sodom
    Oct 22, 2015 at 5:12
  • You posted nice examples.
    – user140086
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:55

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