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In the sentence below:

The result of a man’s jumping from the 10th floor would be death.

The result of a man’s jumping from the 10th floor is death.

They sound to me that they all mean the result of jumping off is death and even my English teacher say there aren't any difference in meaning, but I am curious: Are there any subtle difference between them regarding the 'result' of these two sentences? thanks.

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    The second version states the death as a fact. The first offers a theory. – Yosef Baskin Jun 20 '17 at 11:44
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The difference between 'would be' and 'is' is tense.

The phrase:

The result of a man’s jumping from the 10th floor would be death.

Implies that the man has not yet jumped from the 10th floor - imagine a news commentator describing the scene; that is what they'd say before the jump. Also, it indicates that the man has a choice, compare:

The result of a man’s jumping from the 10th floor will be death

which indicates that he is going to jump.


Whereas,

The result of a man’s jumping from the 10th floor is death.

Implies that he has just jumped (not 'past' enough to justify 'was'), so imagine a commentator saying:

And the result is, as we predicted, death.

You may find these references useful:

  • @user239460 not a problem, i like proving teachers wrong :P – marcellothearcane Jun 20 '17 at 12:01
  • We Asian whose English is generally poor, by the way, what does it mean in your answer that said "(not 'past' enough to justify 'was')"? – user239460 Jun 20 '17 at 12:17
  • If you're talking about things that happened in the past, you use was, so 'The result of a man's jumping from the 10th floor [2 weeks ago] was death'. When I say 'not past enough', I mean that it still counts as the present tense, as in it just happened. – marcellothearcane Jun 20 '17 at 12:21
  • Got it, thanks. it sounds like a poem, doesn't it? – user239460 Jun 20 '17 at 12:36
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    @CarlWitthoft Nope. Conditional perfect, apparently. – marcellothearcane Jun 20 '17 at 16:43

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