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Linda phoned and explained that she would not be able to come to the party the next day because she was still sick.

Why do we use would not instead of will not?

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    Because it's slightly more polite in giving an excuse. Will not be able to simply refers to the future, without any presupposition. Would not be able to refers to the past tense of phoned and explained, so it's a standard indirect speech tactic. May 27, 2020 at 21:13
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    Does this answer your question? Will/would be able to Jul 27, 2020 at 17:10

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Because the sentence is in the past tense. From the point of view of the past tense, the future is expressed with "would" rather than "will."

If the sentence began with "Linda phones and explains that," you'd use "will not be able."

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In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

Because it's slightly more polite in giving an excuse. Will not be able to simply refers to the future, without any presupposition. Would not be able to refers to the past tense of phoned and explained, so it's a standard indirect speech tactic.

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