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  1. #1
    kimski is offline Newbie
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    Default Weird conditionals

    "If they were working all night, they will be tired" v "If the ship left yesterday it will be there tomorrow'.

    Both examples use a second/first mix but in the first the ship obviously left
    (we have time and logical assumption to support this). In the second it is not clear if they in fact worked or if this is just a hypothesis. Can the second be read both ways?.

    In this case why do we use 'were working"? It implies that the work has taken place but second conditionals are not used for past actions.

    Does anyone have examples of other similarly tricky conditionals to analyse with an advanced group?

  2. #2
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by kimski View Post
    "If they were working all night, they will be tired" v "If the ship left yesterday it will be there tomorrow'.
    I reckon these conditionals may be grammatical. Someone here will sure analyse them in more detail. However, they sure sound weird. So, I ask, why doesn't one say they simply:

    Supposing they were working all night, they will be tired. (a hypothesis)
    Considering (that) they were working all night, they will be tired. (more likely)

    Supposing the ship left yesterday, it will be there tomorrow. (hypothetical)
    Considering (that) the ship left yesterday, it will be there tomorrow. (more likely)

    To me, without the "if", they sound clearer and more natural. What do you say, are they correct? Do they mean the same?

    PS1) Not a native speaker
    PS2) Feel free to correct any mistakes in this post

  3. #3
    kimski is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Your examples are clear and sound quite natural.
    The difficulty is that the example I gave ( "if they were working all night they will be tired') is acceptible but ambiguous ie its not clear whether or not they worked and if they did it is in the past so why not use a past perfect tense. but maybe the ambiguity is in fact the reason for using the past simple. am i right?

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    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by kimski View Post
    Your examples are clear and sound quite natural.
    The difficulty is that the example I gave ( "if they were working all night they will be tired') is acceptible but ambiguous ie its not clear whether or not they worked and if they did it is in the past so why not use a past perfect tense. but maybe the ambiguity is in fact the reason for using the past simple. am i right?
    So the usual conditionals should read:
    If they had worked all night, they would have been tired. (they haven't worked - 3rd cond.)
    If they worked all night, they would be tired. (maybe a kind of wish - someone would like them to work all night, so to perfom some action depending on their tiredness -2nd cond.)
    If they work all night, they will be tired. (a logical statement - 1st cond.)


    A possible dialog with these conditionals could be:
    P1 - We want to robb that ship. But its crew is formed by more than 50 strong men, I think we won't have a chance.
    P2 - Yes, you are right. But we must do it tomorrow, we have no other way out. Let us think about it: If they work all night, they will be tired.
    P1 - Ok, I'll try "something" to make they work all night. Tomorrow by 8 we attack.
    On the next day, right before the attack:
    P2 - Are you sure you did that "something" P1?
    P1 - Yep! But I didn't stay there all night to check. I hope they have worked all night long. If they worked all night, they are tired.
    The attack takes place, the pirates are all captured. They talk to each other:
    P2 - I am sure they haven't worked all night long. If they had worked all night, they would have been tired.

    In the second conditional above, instead of writing If they worked all night, they could/might/would be tired, I wrote the main clause in the simple present because I felt it sounded better.

    Where could you insert your weird conditionals in the dialog above?

    Quote Originally Posted by kimski View Post
    Does anyone have examples of other similarly tricky conditionals to analyse with an advanced group?
    Hmm, that might be interesting !! Anyone ?



    PS1) Not a native speaker
    PS2) Feel free to correct any mistakes in this post

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    A possible dialog with these conditionals could be:
    P1 - We want to robb that ship. But its crew is formed by more than 50 strong men, I think we won't have a chance.
    P2 - Yes, you are right. But we must do it tomorrow, we have no other way out. Let us think about it: If they work all night, they will be tired.
    P1 - Ok, I'll try "something" to make they work all night. Tomorrow by 8 we attack.
    On the next day, right before the attack:
    P2 - Are you sure you did that "something" P1?
    P1 - Yep! But I didn't stay there all night to check. I hope they have worked all night long. If they worked all night, they are tired.
    No this is not possible. P1 would say If they (have) worked all night, they will be tired.

    The attack takes place, the pirates are all captured. They talk to each other:
    P2 - I am sure they haven't worked didn't work all night long. If they had worked all night, they would have been tired. Yes

    In the second conditional above, instead of writing If they worked all night, they could/might/would be tired, I wrote the main clause in the simple present because I felt it sounded better.
    R.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by kimski View Post
    "If they were working all night, they will be tired" v "If the ship left yesterday it will be there tomorrow'.

    Both examples use a second/first mix but in the second the ship obviously left (we have time and logical assumption to support this).
    Then why can't you have time and logical assumptions to support that they were working all night. The two sentences are comparable, unless you are making them different by adding the assumptions.

    In the first it is not clear if they in fact worked or if this is just a hypothesis. Can the second be read both ways?
    Not if you've imposed the assumption on it. If you haven't, then both can be read with the same semantics: either you don't know whether a. they worked all night and b. the ship left yesterday, or you've just been told, so you do know, but you use the conditional since you haven't confirmed it yet.
    In both cases, you have:
    If X happened, then Y will be the case.


    In this case why do we use 'were working"? It implies that the work has taken place but second conditionals are not used for past actions.
    You don't have to use the simple past continuous "were working".
    The following are both correct sentences, and could be used in the same circumstances.
    If they have worked all night, they will be tired.
    If they worked all night, they will be tired.

    The only reason you can't say "If the ship was leaving last night" is because 'leaving' is not a continuous action like 'working' is. You can't leave continuously - you've either left or you haven't.
    So the difference comes down to the semantic constraint on the verb "leave" which doesn't exist for "work".
    R.

  7. #7
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    A possible dialog with these conditionals could be:
    P1 - We want to robb that ship. But its crew is formed by more than 50 strong men, I think we won't have a chance.
    P2 - Yes, you are right. But we must do it tomorrow, we have no other way out. Let us think about it: If they work all night, they will be tired.
    P1 - Ok, I'll try "something" to make they work all night. Tomorrow by 8 we attack.
    On the next day, right before the attack:
    P2 - Are you sure you did that "something" P1?
    P1 - Yep! But I didn't stay there all night to check. I hope they have worked all night long. If they worked all night, they are tired.
    No this is not possible. P1 would say If they (have) worked all night, they will be tired.

    The attack takes place, the pirates are all captured. They talk to each other:
    P2 - I am sure they haven't worked didn't work all night long. If they had worked all night, they would have been tired. Yes
    R.
    I appreciate your corrections Raymott. I understand the sentences you rewrote are the correct ones. However I ask you if that former type of mistake would be also tipical of a native speaker (maybe P1 was kind of partial illiterate) or is it only a typical ESL student one? The latter mistake (present perfect instead of simple past) I reckon is typical of an ESL student.

  8. #8
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Well let us come back to the pirates attack. With Raymott's corrections the revised dialog now reads:

    P1 - We want to robb that ship. But its crew is formed by more than 50 strong men, I think we won't have a chance.
    P2 - Yes, you are right. But we must do it tomorrow, we have no other way out. Let us think about it: If they work all night, they will be tired.
    P1 - Ok, I'll try "something" to make they work all night. Tomorrow by 8 we attack.
    On the next day, right before the attack:
    P2 - Are you sure you did that "something" P1?
    P1 - Yep! But I didn't stay there all night to check. I hope they have worked all night long. If they (have) worked all night, they will be tired.
    The attack takes place, the pirates are all captured. They talk to each other:
    P2 - I am sure they didn't work all night long. If they had worked all night, they would have been tired.

    In the three sentences above, what conditional forms play a role?
    If they work all night, they will be tired. --> 1st conditinal
    If they (have) worked all night, they will be tired. --> ???
    If they had worked all night, they would have been tired. --> 3rd conditional

    I tried to give a different meaning to the three first sentences. I would like the first to be a logical statement, the second a kind of wish or hope and the third something that definitelly did not take place. That is the reason I first tried to use the simple present in the second one, something like:
    If they worked all night, they are for sure tired.
    or
    If they (have) worked all night, they must be tired

    So my next question is the following: In the revised dialog written in this post, does the second bolded sentence express a kind of wish or hope the way it is?
    If the answer is negative, is there any way to modify the sentence in order to express so?

    PS Feel free to correct any mistakes in this post

  9. #9
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I appreciate your corrections Raymott. I understand the sentences you rewrote are the correct ones. However I ask you if that former type of mistake would be also tipical of a native speaker (maybe P1 was kind of partial illiterate) or is it only a typical ESL student one? The latter mistake (present perfect instead of simple past) I reckon is typical of an ESL student.
    No, a native speaker wouldn't say "If they worked all night, they are tired."
    I agree about the second one.

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Weird conditionals

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    ...
    P1 - Yep! But I didn't stay there all night to check. I hope they have worked all night long. If they (have) worked all night, they will be tired.
    ...

    That is the reason I first tried to use the simple present in the second one, something like:
    If they worked all night, they are for sure tired.
    or
    If they (have) worked all night, they must be tired

    So my next question is the following: In the revised dialog written in this post, does the second bolded sentence express a kind of wish or hope the way it is?
    It expresses an expectation. Does that count?


    If the answer is negative, is there any way to modify the sentence in order to express so?
    I can't imagine why P1 would necessarily wish or hope that they would be tired. Are you simply trying to write a sentence in a specific type of conditional? It's more important that you understand the concepts. Not all conditional constructions fit into that number scheme, as far as I can see.

    "They will be tired" doesn't have a future meaning. It means "they would be tired", in the sense of "If I checked them, I would find that they were tired". "They will be tired", is a variant of "They would have to be tired (after working all night)".

    But P1 can't say "They are tired", because he doesn't know. He can only postulate that "they would be".
    The reason this is not a typical 1st or 2nd or 3rd conditional is that the event (working) is in the past, but P1 doesn't know yet whether they are tired.

    PS Feel free to correct any mistakes in this post
    R.

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