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Thread: If you were

  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default If you were

    I think "If you were so madly in love with me," definitely means accepted truth like "If you were in love with me in the past" that belongs to factual conditional category, but I can't completely exclude the possbility of its being counterfactual present, I mean, she thinks he isn't in love with her, but the utterance would make no sense. What do you think?

    mo1-40)There is a story told of a young man who saw a beautiful young woman walking through a park and followed her. After a while she turned around and asked the young man, “Why are you following me?” “Because,” he replied, “you are so beautiful that the instant I saw you I knew I was in love.” To this she replied,“But you have only to look behind you to see my younger sister. She is far more beautiful than I.” The young man quickly turned around but saw no one. “You are making fun of me and I can’t see her,” he said to the young woman. As soon as she heard his words, she replied, “No, I’m not. If you were so madly in love with me, why did you turn around?”
    Last edited by keannu; 01-Nov-2012 at 05:43.

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    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: If you were

    In this (so-called ‘nonpredictive’) conditional, the truth of the if-clause is simply hypothetical (i.e. it may, or may not, be true), but not actually counterfactual, as in the case of a second conditional (i.e. effectively denied by the speaker). Note therefore that ‘were’ here is a form of a the indicative, and not of the subjunctive, mood, so that the corresponding 3rd person singular form would be ‘if he was…’ (not were).

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    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default Re: If you were

    NOT A TEACHER,
    keannu
    , strictly speaking, "If you were in love with me" doesn't refer to past it refers to present. In order to refer to past it should be. "If you had been in love with me." However, I think that there can be some deviations in real life when people may not follow it with mathematical preciseness. Like in your example:

    “No, I’m not. If you were so madly in love with me, why did you turn around?” - I think that technically there should be "If you had madly been in love with me." - would be more correct as she refers to the past. May be the reason why it is possible is because we have a very close past which just happened a few seconds ago. If it had happened the day before I doubt that it would be a good choice to say: If you were so madly in love with me yesterday. - It would be: "If you had been".

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    Default Re: If you were

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    Note therefore that ‘were’ here is a form of a the indicative, and not of the subjunctive, mood, so that the corresponding 3rd person singular form would be ‘if he was…’ (not were).
    Interesting point. How did you figure it out that it's indicative?

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    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: If you were

    Quote Originally Posted by Kotfor View Post
    NOT A TEACHER,
    keannu
    , strictly speaking, "If you were in love with me" doesn't refer to past it refers to present. In order to refer to past it should be. "If you had been in love with me." However, I think that there can be some deviations in real life when people may not follow it with mathematical preciseness. Like in your example:

    “No, I’m not. If you were so madly in love with me, why did you turn around?” - I think that technically there should be "If you had madly been in love with me." - would be more correct as she refers to the past. May be the reason why it is possible is because we have a very close past which just happened a few seconds ago. If it had happened the day before I doubt that it would be a good choice to say: If you were so madly in love with me yesterday. - It would be: "If you had been".
    I’m afraid you’re misunderstanding the construction. Tense reference in nonpredictive conditionals is the same as that of main clauses, so that the past tense refers simply to the past. ‘Had been’ would turn this, quite inappropriately, into a counterfactual third conditional.

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    Default Re: If you were

    I said "accepting truth" that means just accepting what the other person said - the guy said he was in love with the girl. It could be hypothetical, but "accepting truth" is just accepting what the other person said whether it's actually true or not. Anyway, you confirmed my idea - it's accepted truth. Thanks a lot!

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    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default Re: If you were

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    I’m afraid you’re misunderstanding the construction. Tense reference in nonpredictive conditionals is the same as that of main clauses, so that the past tense refers simply to the past.
    I am also afraid I am not sure either you or I understand it. Is this "nonpredictive conditionals" covered somewhere on the net? Could you give a link to it? I found only one reference and can't make a conclusion so far. But I suspect that it's just a new name for the old thing which should be proven to be useful rather than to be a new term invented by some linguists to draw attention of audience to this new term for the sake of some benifits. I hope you understand that I don't mean you here.

    As for this
    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    ‘Had been’ would turn this, quite inappropriately, into a counterfactual third conditional.
    The girl doesn't believe that what was said by the guy is true so it is counterfactual, it's not just hypothetical. Or at least it can be open to both interpretations.
    Last edited by Kotfor; 01-Nov-2012 at 06:01.

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    Default Re: If you were

    philo2009,

    I found some material on the subject. Now I see what you meant. I had never come across this term before, actually, -"nonpredictive conditionals"; so I got stuck in terminology. I classified them for myself as constructions with subjunctive meaning but with the indicative form. I think (what might be of no interest to you, of course) that this pattern may be a bit misleading (what proved to be true in my case, I confused it with the standard case) due to its two-faced nature presented by indicative appearance and subjunctive meaning.

    There is only one thing which I can't still fully agree on with you so far.

    You say: "Tense reference in nonpredictive conditionals is the same as that of main clauses, so that the past tense refers simply to the past."

    I think it's only one possible case not an ultimate guideline. As in these examples it's clear that it contradicts this idea:

    If he is going to the play, then he got a ticket yesterday. (Present Continuous+Past Simple)
    If they left yesterday, then they will be there tomorrow. (Past Simple+Future Simple)

    (I may be missing the point again, so would be glad to be corrected)

    By the way, do you have any plausible information, be it a divulged information by a certain specialist or your own shrewd assumption, as to the name itself - "nonpredictive conditionals". What does it imply? What can't be predicted?
    Last edited by Kotfor; 01-Nov-2012 at 07:09.

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    Default Re: If you were

    "If you were" is not counterfactual present, it is an accepted truth as a fact whether it's actaully a fact or not. The speaker just presumes what the guy said in the past is a fact, then asks why he turned around.

    This is like the following example.
    A; I was so hungry
    B : If you were hungry, why didn't you go home and have a meal?

    B might not be hundred percent sure A was really hungry or not, but just assumes "her being hungry" was a fact, and based on that, made a suggestion. That's it. So it's an accepted truth under factual conditional category
    Last edited by keannu; 01-Nov-2012 at 07:43.

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    Kotfor is offline Member
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    Default Re: If you were

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    "If you were" is not counterfactual present
    Only in your example, not by itself of course.

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