1

If you want to explain a situation where, for example, you want to talk about a bus driver who goes and take a coffee sometimes on the way, which one would be more appropriate:

There is this one driver, who goes and gets a coffee on the way and you have to wait like for 10 minutes.

There is this one driver, who would go and get a coffee on the way, and you would have to wait like for 10 minutes.

3
  • Both sound fine. Very slight difference in meaning but inconsequential in this informal kind of speech.
    – Mitch
    Feb 12, 2012 at 3:16
  • Sorry, OT... One day the army unit stations a philosophy student as sentry. If he hears a sound, he is supposed to call out: "Who goes there?" But this guy, when he thinks he heard a sound, but isn't sure, calls out: "Who would go there?"
    – GEdgar
    Feb 12, 2012 at 13:30
  • 1
    I don't see how this is OT. The question is asking about the usage of "who would go" versus "who goes." The OP gives also the context for which he is asked, which means it's not a too generic question. It could be the answer doesn't change basing on the context, but that doesn't make the question OT.
    – apaderno
    Feb 13, 2012 at 17:14

2 Answers 2

4

To me the "would" form is appropriate either if the whole thing is hypothetical:

There might be one driver who would go and get a coffee...

or in the past:

There used to be one driver who would go and get a coffee ...

If it is non-hypothetical and present, I wouldn't use "would":

There is this one driver, who goes and gets a coffee ...

7
  • Can we use "There is this one driver" at the beginning in a hypothetical situation?
    – Noah
    Feb 12, 2012 at 1:50
  • No, because you are asserting ("there is this one driver"), so there is nothing hypothetical about it.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 12, 2012 at 1:55
  • But we can say: "there would be this one driver", right? I am just looking for alternatives instead of might.
    – Noah
    Feb 12, 2012 at 1:59
  • No. The only sense I can make of that ("would" with the main verb) is past habitual (like "used to be"). To get a hypothetical you need to use either a verb like "might" or "could be", or a condition "if there were".
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 12, 2012 at 2:07
  • 1
    That example makes no more sense than the earlier ones. If you want to use "would" you need to be talking about either habit in the past, or about a hypothetical situation: but for the latter you need something (usually an explicit conditional, but in can probably be contextual) to establish the hypothetical context. I don't understand why you keep asking variations on the question "Can I use 'would' in this way you've told me I can't".
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 12, 2012 at 16:24
4

When we are telling a story, we usually use either the present tense or the past tense. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative_mode) Your first sentence uses the present tense, which is fine:

There is [present existence] this one driver, who goes and gets [present habit] a coffee on the way and you have [present habit] to wait like for 10 minutes.

Your second sentence mixes the present tense and past tense, which is not fine:

There is [present existence] this one driver, who would [past habit] go and get a coffee on the way, and you would [past habit] have to wait like for 10 minutes.

So just change is to was:

There was [past existence] this one driver, who would [past habit] go and get a coffee on the way, and you would [past habit] have to wait like for 10 minutes.

(You also omitted the to from have to in your second sentence. I assume that's just a slip.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.