If you say “did not let go” instead of “wouldn't let go”, what is the difference in meaning or nuance? For example, the explanation in the grammar book I have is as follows. The car won’t start. (= the car ‘refuses’ to start) Likewise, “wouldn't let go” means “refused to let go”? (that is, past tense of “won’t let go”) Or when you use “won’t” to say that somebody refuses to do something, you only use “won’t” (the present tense + “not”)?

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Yes, the difference is just that: what happened versus what was intended.

If he “did not let go”, then we know about his actions, but not what he wanted to do. Maybe he was willing to let go if someone had asked him to, but that just did not happen.

If he “would not let go”, he did not want to let go, maybe even refused requests to do so.

  • I re-voted Logophile as that seemed to me a pretty good explanation. – Robbie Goodwin Nov 17 '17 at 21:44

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