Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    aysaa is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Turkish
      • Home Country:
      • Turkey
      • Current Location:
      • Turkey
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    608
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default unless with unreal situations

    Hi,

    Learning English | BBC World Service

    And we cannot use unless with would to talk about unreal future situations:

    -If he didn't take everything so seriously, he would be much easier to work with.
    -If he weren't so bad-tempered, I would help him to get the work done.

    http://www.englishbaby.com/lessons/g...ls_with_unless
    English Grammar: unless in conditional type sentences

    Type-2

    -Unless he was very ill, he would be at work.
    -I wouldn't eat that food unless I was really hungry.

    Type-3

    -I wouldn't have phoned him unless you'd suggested it.
    -They would have shot her unless she'd given them the money.

    I have been confused about whether I can use 'unless' for unreal situations or not. Could you please check them out? Some internet sites say we can, some not.

    Thanks.

  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: unless with unreal situations

    UNLESS is unusual in that type of condition. It is frequently presented as an alternative to IF...NOT, and some English course books and sites give exercises in which students must change one form into the other, with the (sometimes explicit) idea that there is no difference in meaning between such utterances as:
    1. I'm going swimming tomorrow if it doesn't rain.
    2, 'm going swimming tomorrow unless it rains.

    In fact, as always in English, if a different word is used, there is some degree of difference in meaning, even if the practical difference is small. IF in #1 suggests uncertainty about the possibility of rain, and consequent uncertainty about the possibility of going swimming. UNLESS has a meaning similar to except in the following situation(s) or if and only if ... not; the certainty of going swimming is greater in the speaker's mind in #2 than in 1. How great or small the certainty is within the speaker's mind in each case is of course known only to the speaker at the time of utterance.

    It is for this reason that in counterfactual hypotheses about the past, UNLESS is far less commonly used. In #3, below, the speaker mentions one situation that would have made his parents unhappy; the possibility exists of there being other situations that would equally have made them unhappy. #4 would imply that the parents would have been unhappy in every contingency except the speaker's going to university - theoretically possible but unlikely.


    3. My parents would have been unhappy if I hadn't gone to university.
    4. ?My parents would have been unhappy unless I had gone to university.

    In addition, as we have discovered with #2 , the use of UNLESS implies that the certainty of the occurrence of the situation in the consequent clause is greater than with IF...NOT. The speaker is not likely to imply greater certainty of occurrence of something that he or she knows did not occur.

  3. #3
    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: unless with unreal situations

    Quote Originally Posted by aysaa View Post
    Hi,

    And we cannot use unless with would to talk about unreal future situations:
    Hi aysaa, I think 5jj has answered your question.
    Your sentence above is very difficult to understand. You need to differentiate the quoted word/s from the rest of your sentence some way.

  4. #4
    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: unless with unreal situations

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Your sentence above is very difficult to understand. You need to differentiate the quoted word/s from the rest of your sentence some way.


    And we cannot use unless with would to talk about unreal future situations
    And we cannot use 'unless' with 'would' to talk about unreal future situations

Similar Threads

  1. should inversion for unreal
    By aysaa in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 11-Apr-2013, 15:25
  2. Unreal past
    By spongie in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 30-Oct-2012, 19:24
  3. unreal time -- tense shift
    By CarloSsS in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 14-Jun-2012, 04:43
  4. [Grammar] Unreal past perfect
    By ehwalen in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 23-May-2011, 08:26
  5. [General] experssing of unreal condition
    By vil in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 11-Apr-2010, 00:57

Posting Permissions

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