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  1. #21
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Hucky: I failed to identify someone who this characterization could apply to.
    5jj: Well, one person did write, " But regrettably it no longer is" and later, "As you put it, "since it can´t be helped, it has to be tolerated." That is precisely what I meant. There are many common usages that cause me to grind my teeth, but there is nothing I or anyone can do about them."Barb's response to this was one I might have made myself.

    Hucky: What I do regret, however, is that your main paragraph is based on a false assumption. As far as I can see no one in this thread has puffed up himself as an absolute authority claiming that “his” English (what a strange concept of language!) is the “right” one (as you put it).
    5jj: If someone regrets the passing of something, it does not seem unreasonable to assume that they consider what has gone to be better than what remains.

    I cannot find the words 'puffed up' or 'absolute authority' in Barb's posts. You seem to be criticising things she did not say.

    Hucky:Talking about development, it is just a platitude, a mere commonplace to state that everything is subject to development. What on earth is not? Who denies that?
    5jj: I don't quite see your point, because Barb did not write those words.

  2. #22
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    Hi,

    I have just heard in the news the presenter ask this way:

    What happens if they get involved ...?

    The question is a structure consisting of a main clause and a conditional clause. As the rule for such constructions prescribes a future tense in the main clause, the above question baffled me. Am I being to strict with grammar? What are your sentiments on this?

    Hucky
    Personally, I see no strictly grammatical problem with this, since the sentence (a zero conditional) is structurally possible. The only issue is the appropriateness of applying this particular construction, normally applicable to general/universal situations, to one ostensibly envisaged as restricted to a specific future time.

    However, if the speaker should choose to present his/her question as if it were an enquiry of general, rather than of specific, relevance, (s)he would seem to be within his/her rights to do so...

  3. #23
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Holy muckfay, Batman!

    How could this mild debate get so heated so quickly?

  4. #24
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I assumed that you asked because you had not done this. There are also constructions with will in one or both clauses that could be interpreted as zero conditionals:

    If you heat ice, it will melt.
    If you will drink so much, of course you'll have a hangover.
    Well, there are nine if you just start with the core modals. When I mentioned (at least) five, I was referring to the five English constructions that are normally used to express what in some other languages may be expressed with a future tense: present simple, present progressive/continuous, BE + going to, will + bare infinitive and will + progressive infinitive.

    Thanks for your last two contributions! I don´t have the time to give in-depth text analyses. (Apart from that there is no need to analyze the obvious.) And even if I had, it would lead us nowhere. We have exchanged our different interpretations, and I reckon that settles it. The matter can rest there for my part.

    But I´d like to come back briefly to your two example sentences.

    1) If you heat ice, it will melt.

    As to this example sentence, I`ll have to ask a fundamental question first: Can you track down this type in any linguistic reference book? I can´t. Isn´t it a clear-cut case of a zero conditional with a present tense in the main clause? You could substitute if for when(ever).

    2)
    If you will drink so much, of course you'll have a hangover.

    It is common knowledgethat grammatically correctsentences of that pattern (will in the if-clause) do exist.Yet, there is wide consent among grammarians that this usage has to be regarded as the exception to the rule. These exceptions apply to the following cases:

    a) Polite form: She`ll be very happy if you will come.

    b) Emphatic form (stress on will in the if-caluse):
    If she will do that, she has only herself to blame.

    c) after impersonal that/it with reference to the future: I´ll come if that will help.

    Please note that these cases have nothing in common with our original one. That´s quite a different kettle of fish.

  5. #25
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by probus View Post
    Holy muckfay, Batman!

    How could this mild debate get so heated so quickly?
    I`m not sure if it really is. Yet, as long as it is just regarding the subject matter, it is still all right. But even in this case, who could stand too much heat? So, let´s cool down!

  6. #26
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    1) If you heat ice, it will melt.

    As to this example sentence, I`ll have to ask a fundamental question first: Can you track down this type in any linguistic reference book? Yes - Leech, Geoffrey, (2004), Meaning and the English Verb (3rd edn), Harlow: Longman page 86, for one. I can´t. Isn´t it a clear-cut case of a zero conditional with a present tense in the main clause? Well, it's not a clear-cut case for some. I have not infrequently observed lessons in which teachers have given this exact sentence as an example of a first conditional.

    2)
    If you will drink so much, of course you'll have a hangover.

    It is common knowledge that grammatically correct sentences of that pattern (will in the if-clause) do exist.Yet, there is wide consent among grammarians that this usage has to be regarded as the exception to the rule*. These exceptions apply to the following cases:

    a) Polite form: She`ll be very happy if you will come.
    b) Emphatic form (stress on will in the if-clause):
    If she will do that, she has only herself to blame.
    c) after impersonal that/it with reference to the future: I´ll come if that will help.


    I am not aware of this "wide consent". In the first book I picked from my shelf, Quirk et al (1985) write,

    "
    [in adverbial clauses...] will and won't are commonly used (my emphasis -5) :
    i. where the modals have volitional meaning:
    'If he'll pay, I'll go with him.'
    ii. where the modals express timeless and habitual prediction:
    'If sugar will dissolve in a hot liquid, this chemical will do so too.'
    iii. where the modals express the present predicatbly of the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a future situation:
    'If she won't be here before midnight, there's no need to rush.' "
    *If the 'rule' to which you are referring is that mentioned in post #1, it's pretty flawed.

  7. #27
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    *If the 'rule' to which you are referring is that mentioned in post #1, it's pretty flawed.
    Thank you for the trouble you took again! The rule I refer to is the one of how to form the zero conditional, first conditional, resp. - it is well-established, and not made up by me. So, I just cannot see what is supposed to be "pretty flawed" about it. I`d rather consider your argument concerning the teachers quite tenuous: they may utter anything - depending on a lot of factors. And in the second case there is no denying the fact that there are sentences of that kind you have cited. You will remember that I myself exemplified their existence yesterday. The latter and the ones you have added are, however, of the same ontological status: they are all exceptions to the rule which goes: "We don´t usually (my emphasis )use if...will in conditional sentences..." (Hewings, Advanced Grammar, p 200). As we know the exception does not disprove the rule, but prove it. Thus the rule won´t get flawed in face of exceptions, but - on the contrary - confirmed.

  8. #28
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Personally, I see no strictly grammatical problem with this, since the sentence (a zero conditional) is structurally possible. The only issue is the appropriateness of applying this particular construction, normally applicable to general/universal situations, to one ostensibly envisaged as restricted to a specific future time.

    However, if the speaker should choose to present his/her question as if it were an enquiry of general, rather than of specific, relevance, (s)he would seem to be within his/her rights to do so...

    Does my interpretation of your first paragraph correspond to your tenor when I assume that you have doubts about the appropriateness of the phrase in question in the context given? (The presenter asked an expert on foreign affairs about what he thought would happen in Libya in case of a NATO attack.)

    By means of the adverb used to introduce your paragraph, did you mean to mark your statement as your individual position? Do you happen to know any grammarian or stylistician to share this very perspective?

    If needs be - just in case - I`d like to come back to your second paragraph later. But for the time being, let me leave it with that.

  9. #29
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hucky View Post
    The rule I refer to is the one of how to form the zero conditional, first conditional, resp. - it is well-established, and not made up by me. So, I just cannot see what is supposed to be "pretty flawed" about it.
    I know of no such 'rule'. The assertion you made in your first post, "the rule for such constructions prescribes a future tense in the main clause" is one no self-respecting grammarian would utter.

    I'd rather consider your argument concerning the teachers quite tenuous: they may utter anything - depending on a lot of factors.
    I did not present it as an argument, I simply responded to your question, "Isn´t it a clear-cut case of a zero conditional with a present tense in the main clause?"

    And in the second case there is no denying the fact that there are sentences of that kind you have cited. You will remember that I myself exemplified their existence yesterday. The latter and the ones you have added are, however, of the same ontological status:
    I really don't understand that.
    they are all exceptions to the rule which goes: "We don´t usually (my emphasis )use if...will in conditional sentences..." (Hewings, Advanced Grammar, p 200).
    A statement containing the word 'usually' can hardly be considered a 'rule'. Hewings's words imply 'we sometimes do use 'if...will', and so are not very helpful.

    As we know the exception does not disprove the rule, but prove it.
    You have clearly misunderstood the word 'prove' in 'the exception proves the rule'.

    Thus the rule won´t get flawed in face of exceptions, but - on the contrary - confirmed.
    If a rule is confirmed by exceptions, it would seem to be a pretty pointless rule.
    The guidelines on conditionals given in many course books are basic guidelines, no more: If we take them as 'rules', all of these natural, normal English utterances would be 'exceptions':

    If Phil is playing football instead of washing up, I´m going to stop his pocket money.

    Peter: Emma called from Prague yesterday.

    Luke: Well, if she was in Prague yesterday, she should be here tomorrow.

    If you would like to take a seat, I´ll let Mr Bull know you’re here
    .
    If you pour oil in water, it will float.

    If you have finished, start reading the next chapter.


    If you didn't finish up your pudding, you won't want any chocolate, then?

    If I had known that Scrivener was giving the lecture tomorrow, I would have gone.

    As children we were always outdoors. If it was fine, we would walk for miles.

    What happens if they get involved in the future?


    All of these are grammatically well-formed, and are perfectly natural English utterances. Any consideration of conditionals that treats such utterances as exceptions’ is unsatisactory.

    I think that I have written more enough on this. I shall leave this discussion to others - if there are any remaining.

  10. #30
    Hucky is offline Member
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    Default Re: What happens if ...?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    The guidelines on conditionals given in many course books are basic guidelines, no more: If we take them as 'rules', all of these natural, normal English utterances would be 'exceptions':

    If Phil is playing football instead of washing up, I´m going to stop his pocket money.

    Peter: Emma called from Prague yesterday.

    Luke: Well, if she was in Prague yesterday, she should be here tomorrow.

    If you would like to take a seat, I´ll let Mr Bull know you’re here
    .
    If you pour oil in water, it will float.

    If you have finished, start reading the next chapter.


    If you didn't finish up your pudding, you won't want any chocolate, then?

    If I had known that Scrivener was giving the lecture tomorrow, I would have gone.

    As children we were always outdoors. If it was fine, we would walk for miles.

    What happens if they get involved in the future?


    All of these are grammatically well-formed, and are perfectly natural English utterances. Any consideration of conditionals that treats such utterances as exceptions’ is unsatisactory.

    I think that I have written more enough on this. I shall leave this discussion to others - if there are any remaining.

    You won´t believe it, but this time I could´t agree more on all you have written. Yet, allow me one remark about your paragraphs one and two: Grammar is not the only
    aspect from which a language can been regarded, and not the supreme either, but just the basic one, it lays no more than the foundations, in a manner of speaking. The foundations are not the edifice of a language, but without firm foundations every building would sooner or later collaps. In your line of argument you have rightly surpassed the limits of grammar , arguing from a position of usage and style. Maybe some of our lengthy debate is due to these different positions. What I cannot see, however, is why the status of an utterance in its capacity as a grammatical exception should impair its value. In this case a lot of the best proverbs and sayings would have to be considered worthless. And I also agree with your last remark. That´ll do. Thanks a lot again!

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