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What's the difference between:

  1. Who would be the best person for this job?
  2. Who is the best person for this job?
  3. Who may be the best person for this job?
  4. Who will be the best person for this job?

And what does "would" mean in the sentence?

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  • Oops .. vote limit reached. You're lucky
    – user385888
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 8:13

1 Answer 1

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The sentences are increasingly definite/certain.

In "Who would be the best person for this job," the implication is something like this: We may not end up choosing any of these people for this job (because, for example, we have other options). But if we did end up choosing one of them, who would be the best?

In "Who is the best person for this job," the implication is: We have to choose one of these people for this job (because for example, if we don't, something bad will happen). Who is the best?

"Who may be the best person for this job" sounds strange to me.

In "Who will be the best person for this job," the implication is: We are going to choose someone for this job (we have already decided that this is happening, and nothing is going to change that).

By the way, another option is "Who might be the best person for this job," which is even less definite than "Who would be"—the implication there is something like: We may not be considering choosing anybody for this job. But if we were to consider it, who would be the best person?

Note: they're virtually interchangeable in meaning. One thing that would guide my choice about which one to use might be how much power or authority I have in the discussion. If I'm the boss of a company, I'm more likely to say, "Who will be the best person," because ultimately the decision is up to me, so I have the power to say whether it will happen or not. If I'm a temp worker, I'm more likely to say, "Who might be the best person for this job," because I have little or no authority to decide.

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