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I came across this many times while I was conversing/texting mostly with native english speakers on something they want me to do and they would put the statement in a very polite way. For instance if he wants me to give a shot on installing some software, they would say I would give it a shot(let's call this sentence A) by which they would actually mean- If I were you, I would give it a shot (calling this sentence B)

I am really curious to know on how sentence B above transformed to sentence A in daily usage of english language. Is this a part of english grammar or just an evolution of the language?

I feel just sentence A is a bit confusing because there were instances where I took its literal meaning and interpreted that as he would give a shot on installing that software.

  • That doesn't confuse us because we would say I'll give it a shot for what you are calling the literal meaning... since that risk of confusion isn't there, we are free to use the conditional without specifying the condition, provided that the condition is obvious. – user339660 Jun 2 '19 at 8:59
  • Gotcha. Makes sense. So, think the reason for shortening this usage(to sentence A) is part of language evolution in daily usage right – Uday Sagar Jun 2 '19 at 16:29
  • Hard to say - how do you know there was a time when only the long form was acceptable? Is it really shortened, or just shorter? – user339660 Jun 3 '19 at 6:31
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It's not correct that when saying "I would [verb]", an additional "if I were you" is necessarily implied.

This usage of "I would [verb]" is typically a conditional construction, in which would is "used in auxiliary function in the conclusion of a conditional sentence to express a contingency or possibility" (Merriam-Webster, meaning 7a).

However, the nature of that implied condition is entirely open: it could be "if it were up to me", or "if I were in that situation", or "if I were to express a preference", or simply "if you want my opinion". It's not possible to infer sentence B.

I feel just sentence A is a bit confusing because there were instances where I took its literal meaning and interpreted that as he would give a shot on installing that software.

The confusion here is probably due to lack of fluency. There is an immense difference between would and will. In the kind of scenario being described, to indicate intent we would use will (e.g. "I'll give it a shot"), whereas would merely indicates preference or conditionality. For example, if I ask someone to do something and they reply with "I would ...", I can be confident the next word will be "if", "but" or "rather not", followed by the reason they can't or won't do it.

See also this EL&U post on the use of would.

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