Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,377
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default could never be born

    In "one of your parents could never be born; therefore, you could never be born", do both "could" mean unreal condition or real condition? The two can be interpreted in both ways, so it's confusing. I need a savior!!!

    ex)The concept of moving freely to different points in time is known as time travel. Time travel is impossible to consider without addressing the issue of paradoxes. One of these is known as the "grandfather paradox." Imagine that you invented a time machine and could travel into the past. What would happend if you met your grandfather when he was a young man and accidentally killed him?
    That would mean that one of your parents could never be born; therefore, you could never be born. But if you were never born, how could you exist to travel back in time and kill him? Like all paradoxes, it's a logical contradiction.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,764
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could never be born

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    In "one of your parents could never be born; therefore, you could never be born", do both "could" mean unreal condition or real condition? The two can be interpreted in both ways, so it's confusing. I need a savior!!!

    ex)The concept of moving freely to different points in time is known as time travel. Time travel is impossible to consider without addressing the issue of paradoxes. One of these is known as the "grandfather paradox." Imagine that you invented a time machine and could travel into the past. What would happend if you met your grandfather when he was a young man and accidentally killed him?
    That would mean that one of your parents could never be born; therefore, you could never be born. But if you were never born, how could you exist to travel back in time and kill him? Like all paradoxes, it's a logical contradiction.
    I would have phrased this as "That would mean that one of your parents could never have been born; therefore, you could never have been born." But that's by the by.
    I'll assume you understand the paradox.
    It means, "One of your parents would not have been able to be [to have been] born, therefore you would not have able to be [to have been] born."
    "It would have been impossible for one of your parents ..."

    I'm not sure whether that makes it a real or unreal 'could'. But how else can you interpet it?

  3. #3
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,377
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could never be born

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I would have phrased this as "That would mean that one of your parents could never have been born; therefore, you could never have been born." But that's by the by.
    I'll assume you understand the paradox.
    It means, "One of your parents would not have been able to be [to have been] born, therefore you would not have able to be [to have been] born."
    "It would have been impossible for one of your parents ..."

    I'm not sure whether that makes it a real or unreal 'could'. But how else can you interpet it?
    I'm sorry, the part I asked about doesn't seem a conditional one, it's just a plain statement. But what about this one?
    ex) But if you were never born, how could you exist to travel back in time and kill him?

    Is this a real conditional or unreal conditional? I mean conditional1 or conditional2?
    I think it's conditional 1 meaning an uncertain past event, but what confuses me is that the writer knows the "you" were defintely born as the story begins with the assumption that "you" is the evident protagonist. Well, I guess "you" is a general figure, so it can be treated as a non-existent person.
    But what do you think?
    Last edited by keannu; 10-Jul-2011 at 23:23. Reason: add

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,764
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could never be born

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I'm sorry, the part I asked about doesn't seem a conditional one, it's just a plain statement. But what about this one?
    ex) But if you were never born, how could you exist to travel back in time and kill him?

    Is this a real conditional or unreal conditional? I mean conditional1 or conditional2?
    I think it's conditional 1 meaning an uncertain past event, but what confuses me is that the writer knows the "you" were defintely born as the story begins with the assumption that "you" is the evident protagonist. Well, I guess "you" is a general figure, so it can be treated as a non-existent person.
    But what do you think?
    I'd call it the 3rd conditional. (But I don't normally number my conditionals, so I'm not an expert at this.)
    "If you hadn't been born, you couldn't exist to travel back in time."
    The fact that the person has been born is part of the paradox. Paradoxes are supposed to be confusing.
    Apart from labelling the conditionals with numbers and reality or unreality, do you understand what the sentence is saying?

  5. #5
    keannu's Avatar
    keannu is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    4,377
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: could never be born

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'd call it the 3rd conditional. (But I don't normally number my conditionals, so I'm not an expert at this.)
    "If you hadn't been born, you couldn't exist to travel back in time."
    The fact that the person has been born is part of the paradox. Paradoxes are supposed to be confusing.
    Apart from labelling the conditionals with numbers and reality or unreality, do you understand what the sentence is saying?
    Yes, it seems like a 3rd conditional, counter-factual past event.
    But what confuses me is the form should be "If you hadn't been born, you couldn't have existed to travel back in time", but the original one seems like a little changed one. Right?
    I understand what it means, but the form is so confusing that it can make us think it's second conditional or 1st real conditional. ....That's what I meant.

Similar Threads

  1. born from or born of?
    By keannu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 15-Apr-2011, 01:15
  2. [Grammar] have been born or was born
    By princesabharwal in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-Sep-2010, 03:09
  3. was/were born
    By Tan Elaine in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 21-Mar-2010, 07:27
  4. Born in, Born on
    By explorerXX in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 20-Apr-2008, 20:57

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •