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I am a little confused about the usage of 'would' in fiction-writing/translation.

So, here's a very simple example that confuses me.

"Why did you say that?" she asked. -- (my version) "Why would you say that?" she asked --(editor's version)

I don't understand the difference.

Can anybody help?

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  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why would he do this to me?
    – Laurel
    May 15 '20 at 14:49
  • This is a politeness issue; "Why did you say that?" in many contexts is abrupt, challenging. "Why would you say that?" utilises one of the many usages of the overworked modal 'would'; the meaning is the same as the obvious 'did' version, but this is a greatly hedged variant. Imagine Miss Marple: "Now why would you say that, my dear?" // Probably not the same usage as in 'Why would he do this to me?' May 15 '20 at 14:52
  • Thank you! This helps!
    – Law Yasue
    May 16 '20 at 1:35

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