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
    4,314
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and

    Do these two underlined sentences mean "habitual acts" in the past or "presumption"? It's confusing. If it's a habitual act, "he" would represent the whole criminals, otherwise, "he" would be a specific person. I think there are possibilities for both, but I lean toward "presumption".

    p7)Once upon a time there lived a king who had some strange ideas about how to rule his kingdom. One of his plans was to build a stadium for the entertainment of his people. Instead of sporting events, though, he presented criminal trials. People would come to see the guilty punished and the innocent rewarded.

    When a person was charged with a crime, notice was given to the public that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the stadium. When all the people had gathered in the stands, the king, sitting high up on his throne, gave a signal. A door to the arena opened and the person on trial stepped out in front of the crowd. Directly in front of the accused were two doors that looked exactly the same.

    The person on trial was required to open one of the two doors. He could open either door. He was given no direction or no influence, other than that of a fair chance. Behind one of the doors was a fierce tiger. If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and tear him to pieces as punishment for his crime. The fact that he chose that door was a sign of his guilt. Behind the other door was a beautiful lady. If he chose that door, it would be a sign of his innocence and he would be allowed to marry her, then and there.

    This system of criminal justice was popular among the king's subjects. When the people gathered to see a trial, they would not know whether they would witness a cruel punishment or a happy wedding. This sense of uncertainty became the key source of entertainment.

    Last edited by keannu; 20-Apr-2013 at 12:42.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Do these two underlined sentences mean "habitual acts" in the past or "presumption"? It's confusing. If it's a habitual act, "he" would represent the whole criminals, otherwise, "he" would be a specific person.
    I don't know what you mean by 'the whole criinals', and I don't understand your confusion on this point. 'He' is the person on trial on the appointed day.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,502
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and

    Certainly no habitual action; nor presumption - unless you call a certainty a presumption. It's a straightforward conditional (I'm afraid I don't do numbers ): if A happened then B would happen.

    b

  4. #4
    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
    4,314
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and

    My confusion was "the person" or "he" may mean all the criminals in general, so in this case, the sentence would mean a habitual action of all the criminals.
    But as you said "he" is a specific person, so " If he opened that door, the tiger would spring " would be a predictive conditional, where you don't know if something happened or not, which I labelled as presumption. If I'm mistaken, please correct me.

  5. #5
    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
    19,591
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Do these two underlined sentences mean "habitual acts" in the past or "presumption"? It's confusing. If it's a habitual act, "he" would represent the whole criminals, otherwise, "he" would be a specific person. I think there are possibilities for both, but I lean toward "presumption".

    p7)Once upon a time there lived a king who had some strange ideas about how to rule his kingdom. One of his plans was to build a stadium for the entertainment of his people. Instead of sporting events, though, he presented criminal trials. People would come to see the guilty punished and the innocent rewarded.

    When a person was charged with a crime, notice was given to the public that on an appointed day the fate of the accused person would be decided in the stadium. When all the people had gathered in the stands, the king, sitting high up on his throne, gave a signal. A door to the arena opened and the person on trial stepped out in front of the crowd. Directly in front of the accused were two doors that looked exactly the same.

    The person on trial was required to open one of the two doors. He
    could open either door. He was given no direction or no influence, other than that of a fair chance. Behind one of the doors was a fierce tiger. If he opened that door, the tiger would spring upon him and tear him to pieces as punishment for his crime. The fact that he chose that door was a sign of his guilt. Behind the other door was a beautiful lady. If he chose that door, it would be a sign of his innocence and he would be allowed to marry her, then and there.

    This system of criminal justice was popular among the king's subjects. When the people gathered to see a trial, they would not know whether they would witness a cruel punishment or a happy wedding. This sense of uncertainty became the key source of entertainment.

    The problem is set up in "One of his plans was to build a stadium for the entertainment of his people." Native speakers would read the rest of the story and infer that he actually carried out his plan. I think this should be possible for most non-native speakers as well.
    Yes, 'he' means the person on trial, and refers to any person on trial.

    Since you're interested in defining this as presumption or habituality, consider the following:
    A. "I had a plan to build a torture system whereby a tiger would come out and eat the criminal." This is a presumption.
    B. "I had a plan. I built a torture system whereby a tiger would come out and eat the criminal. It worked beautifully." I don't think this is classifiable. It was the presumption that I had when I built, but it became habitual. This use of 'would' shares both functions. Frankly, if you understand the sentence, I don't think it's necessary to manhandle the word into a category.

    So, the point is, did the King actually build this system and did it work? What do you think the whole story suggests?
    Note that there are other conditionals in the piece that you have to interpret in this way.
    Last edited by Raymott; 20-Apr-2013 at 16:38.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Aug-2012, 09:28
  2. the door inched opened smoothly
    By Bushwhacker in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 26-Feb-2010, 18:31
  3. You have opened the door just right.
    By flytothesky in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 29-Jun-2009, 17:29
  4. Even if they opened the door I wouldn’t go there
    By flytothesky in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 02-Jan-2009, 19:36
  5. It is time the door were/be opened by us
    By outofdejavu in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-Sep-2008, 12:08

Posting Permissions

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