"should/ would" opinions please

Jim Parish jparish at SIUE.EDU
Sun Apr 28 17:58:56 UTC 2013

I recall being taught that, in first person, you use "shall" and
"should" whenever, in second or third person, you would use "will" and
"would" respectively, and vice versa. I don't do this, but it looks as
though Bierce did; I would therefore rephrase Bierce's last sentence as
"I shall willingly surrender... that I would have thrown away... "

Jim Parish

Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> Here's an interesting "should/would" question with a dash of "might" for
> those more attuned to 19th C. nuance than I am.
> In an 1881 essay on the battle of Shiloh, Ambrose Bierce concludes by
> waxing poetic in the following terms:
> "Ah, Youth, there is no such wizard as thou! =85[G]ild for but one moment t=
> he
> drear and somber scenes of to-day, and I will willingly surrender an other
> [sic] life than the one that I should have thrown away at Shiloh."
> I can't believe (from the broader context) he means that he "should" have
> thrown his life away; merely that he "might" have (by being killed).  (The
> "other" life involved, in contrast to his adventurous youth, is his drab
> post-bellum existence.)
> Whatever Bierce may mean, I don't feel that my sprakgefool is sharp enough
> to determine the nuances of "should" and "would" in this case.
> How do others interpret Bierce's meaning?
> JL
> --=20
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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