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  1. #21
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Pedroski, why don't you start a new thread entitled 'Is would a subjunctive?' or something like that. Then people who are interested in this can argue away to their heart's content. People who are not interested need not enter the thread, and need not be sidetracked in other threads.

  2. #22
    Danman is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Are there any Americans that can give me an opinion on this? I asked my cousin who's an english elementary teacher, and she wasn't sure... I'm just asking, since there are differences between AE and BE.

  3. #23
    Pedroski is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Well this is a thread, and you have said 'would' is just a past tense. Why not discuss it here? Tense is a difficult subject in any language. I find it fascinating that you should have trouble recognizing the subjunctive, and that you confuse it with the past tense. Especially as your etiquette says you were a teacher.

    The Past Tense refers to things that happened in the past. The Past Subjunctive is so called because its written form resembles the past tense form. There the similarity ends. The subjunctive is not a tense, and cannot be located in time. Death is fairly final, and verifiable.

    1) I killed him. Past Tense, he, poor chap, is dead.
    2) I would kill him. Past Subjunctive, he is not dead. I cannot believe you think that this sentence says: 'He is dead', nor that you think this is a past tense sentence. But from what you have said here, and in another thread, you may in fact think so. These two sentences illustrate the difference between the past tense and the past subjunctive. This is the same usage as in the original sentence.

  4. #24
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danman View Post
    Are there any Americans that can give me an opinion on this? I asked my cousin who's an english elementary teacher, and she wasn't sure... I'm just asking, since there are differences between AE and BE.
    We'll have to wait for a speaker of AmE to give a definitive answer. In the meantime, I'll just say that many Americans I have encountered seem to me to be very happy with: if I would have known that ...

    To me that is unacceptable in BrE.

  5. #25
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Well this is a thread, and you have said 'would' is just a past tense. Why not discuss it here? Tense is a difficult subject in any language. I find it fascinating that you should have trouble recognizing the subjunctive, and that you confuse it with the past tense. Especially as your etiquette says you were a teacher.

    Many people would simply say that would is the past tense of the modal auxiliary will and that the modals carry the concept of possibility/obligation etc. If this is a subjunctive use of would could you a) back it up with academic references and b) give would used in other moods?

    I will repeat what I said earlier, and as modals cause more arguments than anything else here on the forum, I will ask you to cut the strident tone out, to state that would is a subjunctive is a matter of opinion and not fact. Please quote your sources. If you don't have them, then it is your opinion. Linguistics is awash with thoeries about modals- ranging from some who say that they are not verbs, to others that will and would are separate verbs and not the present and past tense of the same modal. You are elevating a personal view to claiming it as a fact, so it would be a good idea to back that up with several leading authorities backing you up. This is not the If I were/was debate, so I would respectfully ask you to back up your claims with references.
    Last edited by Tdol; 26-Nov-2010 at 10:10.

  6. #26
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    We'll have to wait for a speaker of AmE to give a definitive answer. In the meantime, I'll just say that many Americans I have encountered seem to me to be very happy with: if I would have known that ...

    To me that is unacceptable in BrE.
    When Paul McCartney's first wife died, he was asked whether he would have used a medicine tested on animals and he said 'If it would have cured her, I would have used it', which is an example, though different from the one used, where it might work in BrE.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    When Paul McCartney's first wife died, he was asked whether he would have used a medicine tested on animals and he said 'If it would have cured her, I would have used it', which is an example, though different from the one used, where it might work in BrE.
    An interesting example.

    I think that in what is traditionally known as the third condition(al), we are dealing with the counterfactual:

    If I he had asked me, I would have refused.
    Did he ask me? No
    Did I refuse? Clearly not - I didn't have the opportunity.

    Here, IMO, the past perfect is obligatory in BrE; would have asked is unacceptable.

    In the Paul McCartney example, we are dealing with the hypothetical.

    If it would have cured her, I would have used it.
    Did it cure her? The question is irrelevant, because it wasn't used.

    Perhaps the closest we can get to the traditional third conditional here is something like:

    If I had known (that it would cure her), I would have used it.

    So the McCartney example is both acceptable in BrE and is not an example of would have in a counterfactual utterance.

    IMO

    p.s. If you suffer from insomnia, I have expanded my thoughts on condition(al)s here: http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Conditionals.pdf
    Last edited by 5jj; 26-Nov-2010 at 10:47. Reason: p.s. added

  8. #28
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danman View Post
    Evidently a lot of Americans get that wrong, haha. What are you referring to?

    I've never been corrected on that (and that after 2 years of college).

    edit: Say what? ... "I'm moving house" is confusing! :P This expression is never used in AmE. It's simply "I'm moving."

  9. #29
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    We'll have to wait for a speaker of AmE to give a definitive answer. In the meantime, I'll just say that many Americans I have encountered seem to me to be very happy with: if I would have known that ...

    To me that is unacceptable in BrE.
    And in AmE as well.
    Perhaps you've been meeting the wrong Americans.

  10. #30
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by riquecohen View Post
    Perhaps you've been meeting the wrong Americans.
    In that they don't agree with me, they must be wrong.

    The American grammars I have consulted tell me that AmE usage is the same as BrE on this point, but I have met so many Americans who use would in the if-clause in cases where the books say it's incorrect that I am really not sure.

    Most of the Americans I have met in recent years have been in the world of TEFL, and have had a sound education, so I am not talking about people who frequently make mistakes in grammar.

    I also have the impression that Americans in general are more fastidious about following rules than most British people - the subjunctive for example is more alive on your side of the pond than it is on ours, as is the use of whom.

    Could this be a case where American grammar books have not caught up with normal usage, or have I really just met the wrong Americans?

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