I got the following riddle from facebook:

"I was challenged, and I failed. Calling all my intelligent FB friends... try to answer this 🙂 I challenge you. Pm me your answer. I failed! As I've promised, I'm posting this photo of myself chosen by NAME Your turn! Read the riddle. If your answer is incorrect, I can choose any of your photos and you have to post it along with the riddle. If you answer correctly, I'll write your name in the comments (with a trophy emoji) Riddle: It's 7:00 AM. You are asleep and there is a sudden knock on the door. Behind the door are your parents who came to have breakfast. In your fridge are bread, milk (pasteurised), juice, and a jar of jam. To answer, what will you open first? Answer direclty thru PM only, answers in the comment section will be deleted. Thanks!"

At first I thought the question was a reference to the riddle, so I answered "open my eyes". But it seems the right answer is "messenger" because for someone to answer the riddle one needs to open the messenger app first.

A friend of mine says that the question is also a reference to the riddle therefore he thinks his answer is also right. The point I made to him is that the question would only be a reference to the riddle if the conjugation "would" was used, because the riddle is a hypothetical situation. He says that the verb in the present is also fine and there's no reference to a hypothetical situation so according to him this makes the question refer to the riddle too.

Does the verb in the present 'will' instead of 'would' removes all the reference to the riddle? Is that enough argument to rule out "open your eyes" as the right answer?

closed as off-topic by jimm101, Jason Bassford, Phil Sweet, Chenmunka, curiousdannii Dec 13 '18 at 2:27

  • This question does not appear to be about English language and usage within the scope defined in the help center.
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • The fridge. You need to open the fridge to get the to the other stuff. – jimm101 Dec 7 '18 at 15:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because (a) this belongs on a puzzle stackexchange, and (b) the narrowly tuned question about verb tense is valid if the other stuff is substantially cut away. That part of the question could be 10% of the size, and would require some research. – jimm101 Dec 7 '18 at 15:41
  • @jimm101 Let me decide how I ask my questions. The fact that you'd rather see a compact version of my question shouldn't be a reason to think of it as being less about grammar than it actually is. Questions about language usage need context and I think I provided it by showing the puzzle before the question. – Yuri Borges Dec 7 '18 at 16:37
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    Let me clarify. Questions are community owned, and posted by a user. People can and will edit. Large portions of this question are about PM'ing people, etc., so the question gets lost in irrelevant details. The question you posted has a better chance of getting an answer, being read, and helping the community if the fluff is removed and the core of the question remains. – jimm101 Dec 7 '18 at 17:35
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    The key is not the verb tense but the "To answer". But it's ambiguous: are you answering the riddle or the door? – Jim Dec 8 '18 at 4:48

The difference in this case between "will" and "would" is ambiguous, and ambiguosity is the very heart of riddles. The reason that it's ambiguous is that the author has created a fictional narrative and is asking you to immerse yourself in it. You might view this as counterfactual calling for "would", or as factual within the fictional context, calling for "will" - but that's a stylistic choice. The difference in meaning is very small in this particular situation.

That all said, is it possible that the will/would disparity is a clue from the author? Sure, it's possible, but in a riddle, almost anything might be a clue.

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