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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default if she were not ready by 6:00 P.M

    I learned that in reported speech, conditionals don't change. Then is "she were not ready" used here? It seems a likely conditional(conditional1) as she is usually late(so it should be "if she was not ready"), but I don't know why it has the form of hypothetical, unlikely future.Maybe the writer wrote wrong, or the publisher copied it wrong.

    ex)A friend of mine had a wife who was habitually late. He had nagged and nagged his wife about her being late, but nothing changed....Tired of suffering the consequences of her behavior, he decided to give them back to her. One night they had plans to go to a dinner party, and he did not want to be late. In advance, he told her that he wanted to be on time and that if she were not ready by 6:00 P.M., he would leave without her. She was late, and he left.

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    Default Re: if she were not ready by 6:00 P.M

    1. First conditionals can be backshifted. Second cannot, because that would give them the appearance of third conditionals, and change the sense.

    John: "If you come late, I won't be there."
    John said that, if I came late, he wouldn't be there.

    John" If you came late, I wouldn't be there."
    John said, that if I came late he wouldn't be there
    .

    If we want to bring out the difference between the real and hypothetical meanings in the reported versions, we would have to use different words, as I explained in another thread.

    2. In your example, you are possibly right. In practice, those people who use the 'were' form in the first and third persons in hypothetical conditions would be so used to doing it that they would use it in a reported first condition. Many people do not use the 'were' form anyway, so the question would not arise.

    This is the sort of question that would have provoked fierce debate in the tracts of the Society for Pure English in the 1920s, but interests very few today. If you wish to use 'was', do so.
    Last edited by 5jj; 10-Nov-2011 at 13:37. Reason: typo

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