Thread: A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

1. A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

Hello, everyone.

I was asked by one of my students this question. She is indeed a bright one and I have never thought or encountered such situation before.

Suppose I will enter a competion and allegedly it's set tomorrow night. I want to watch a film now but at the same time I want to at least be able to play the piece of music I am supposed to be playing tomorrow night. I am nearly there. Another hour's of practice would suffice and this can be now or some time tomorrow. I will have lessons until 6 p.m. the following day. So I can prectise tomorrow if the time is after 8, or I will have to do it now if it's before 8. It seems there is a kind of condition here, in that whether the competion is set before or after 8 will have a bearing on whether I am practising now.

Is is possible to say I am rehearsing this piece of music if I will have to play it at 7 p.m. tomorrow night?

Many thanks

Richard

2. Re: A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

Far more natural would be, "I am rehearsing this piece of music now, in case I have to play it at 7 p.m." "Tomorrow night" is unnecessary, as it is understood from the context.

3. Re: A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

I've heard usage like the sencence you rewrote before.

The student specifically asked me whether this a conditional like what I wrote , which I take means we can't manage without the usage of if here.

It seems logical such a conditional exists,though I have never encountered such a conditional, if it can be called one, in grammar books I have read, both English and Chinese.

Or perhaps though the concept is there the English people just don't use it that way?

This is just my guess and it's very likely that I am wrong.

4. Re: A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

I don't feel that your sentence is a conditional. I'd like to see other opinions on this. This situation might be expressed as a conditional as follows: "If I am asked to play at 7 p.m., I will be prepared to do so."

5. Re: A conditional where the condition is set in the future while the rest is present?

Originally Posted by cubezero3
Is is possible to say I am rehearsing this piece of music if I will have to play it at 7 p.m. tomorrow night?
The answer to that is 'No'.

The situation you have presented is so complex that I cannot imagine that any native speaker would attempt to describe it in one conditional sentence. If s/he did, listeners who knew the full context would probably understand it, but it would probably defy normal analysis.

I once concocted a perfectly possible context in which 'We did it tomorrow last year" was a natural, correct and acceptable utterance, but you won't find it in most grammars. Most grammarians find it difficult enough to deal with normal situations; they don't have the time, energy or desire to consider what native speakers might say if they were confronted with strange situations.

A digression: As someone who has been interested in Comsky's thoughts on grammar for for over forty years, I have been wryly amused at the contortions of some of his followers who have claimed in some of their writings (I can't cite them, because I threw them away) that the reason utterance X is not possible in English is because it cannot be generated by Chomskyan rules. The only problem with that is that, for most native speakers, utterance X is possible.

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