- For Teachers
There has been some doubt in my mind about the percentage of probability in choosing so-called conditional1(predictive) or so-called condition 2(counterfactual or hypothetical), which may seem stupid to you. Now, I realize even counter-factual does depend on your attitude, and not depending on the percentage of probability(even if you have 5% improbability and it's strong, it can lead to conditional2, and you can't measure it by number), you use either conditional2 by any negative thoughts, and conditional 1 by any positive thoughts.
Sorry, I won't ask you about this any more, thank you so much!!!
I'm not contradicting there being only counter-factual for the present and hypothetical for the future, but as I said, there seem to be numerous cases for me to judge hard.
It's just an imaginary situation- there's no element of time here. I would say this sentence without any consideration of the time- the only thing I would use the conditional there to mark is the theoretical nature of the situation I am describing. I think it might help if the definition of general time included timeless or at any time, rather than sticking to past/present/future.
When we say that the earth goes round the sun, it is true that it was going round in the past, is going round now and will continue to go round in the future, as far as we know. However, when we say it, are we really thinking about time? Time is a measure that helps prove the fact, but we're probably thinking more about the fact than the time. General time is often a sort of timelessness. Time may influence our choice of tense and form, but it only one factor.
With the example of the prizes, the factor that governs the choice is the unreal nature of the situation- the choice moves into the realm of the imaginary and it does not locate it at any time IMO. The imaginary can be located in time past, present or future, but it can also be located outside of considerations of time. You can call the prizes example general time if you like, but unless you factor in the concept of timelessness, maybe eternity, to your definition of general time, then I think the picture will be incomplete. Conditionals allow us to play tricks with time and reality- a linguistic time machine that can rewrite the past and shape the future or change the present.
I would agree that it is time in general, but my view of time in general here includes the timeless.
"If you were doing your homework now, your father wouldn't be so angry."
But my last question was that the hypothetical for the future can be also exteded to timeless, general time and this kind of conditionals have always made me confused, unable to explain easily to my students. It's because all I could depend on was grammar books' definitions that never mention general time. Now I feel really satisfied.
So can I conclude my humble opinion?
conditional2 : 1.Counterfactual(present, often general time) 2.Hypothetical( future or general time(timeless, beyond time, whatever))
conditional 2 : 1.Counterfactual (present
, often/ general time) 2.Hypothetical (future or generaltime (timeless, beyond time, whatever))
As I have pointed out elsewhere*, "I believe that many of the problems with conditionals are caused by grammar and course books which attempt to make the system digestible for learner by presenting an over-simplified system cut up into little chunks. The result of this is that learners feel that they never get to the bottom of a system that appears to become ever more complex and throw up an increasing number of exceptions."
But Tdol said it's a hypothetical conditional across all times. If it's not true, I can't help but conclude this is something that can not happen in the present or in general time from the speaker's point of view.
...In fact, if prizes were being handed out all day for various things, you could win "first prize" in the fifth prize awarded.....
Last edited by keannu; 01-Nov-2011 at 13:09.
You are looking at single sentences for a definitive answer to things they cannot provide. We construct meaning in context and not in single sentences in isolation.
Grammar doesn't provide us with everything- it gives us pointers and the context will make things clearer.
Cut out that last sentence and stick it to the top of your computer screen.