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    #1

    back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    "If she heats ice it melts."
    1. He said that if she heated ice it melted.
    2. He said that if she heats ice it melts.


    "If she is late for work her boss gets angry"
    3. He said that if she was late for work her boss got angry.
    4. He said that if she is late for work her boss gets angry.

    Hi,
    In indirect zero conditional sentences back-shifting (tense change) occurs or not?

    Source: self made grammar question
    Thank you

  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    In the first pair of your examples, I'd rather say:

    If she heats ice it'll melt., unless you want to put some emphasis on her extraordinary abilities to melt ice, which is not that exceptional at all.

    Otherwise, in a general sense:
    If one heats/you heat ice it melts/it'll melt.

    In reported speech, I'd say:
    He said that if she heated ice it would melt.
    or
    He said that if one heats/you heat ice it melts/it'll melt. or with back-shifting :
    He said that if one/you heated ice it melted/it would melt.

    Similarly, with your other pair of examples.
    When speaking in a general sense, you can also use When, Whenever, Every time, etc. in place of If.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by sb70012 View Post
    "If she heats ice it melts."
    1. He said that if she heated ice it melted.
    2. He said that if she heats ice it melts.


    "If she is late for work her boss gets angry"
    3. He said that if she was late for work her boss got angry.
    4. He said that if she is late for work her boss gets angry.

    Hi,
    In indirect zero conditional sentences back-shifting (tense change) occurs or not?

    Source: self made grammar question
    Thank you
    I would have a tendency not to backshift tenses for zero conditionals. They are usually about things that are always true. If you go back to the threads in which we discussed backshifting tenses for things things that are true in the present, those discussions would be applicable here.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    In the first pair of your examples, I'd rather say:

    If she heats ice it'll melt., unless you want to put some emphasis on her extraordinary abilities to melt ice, which is not that exceptional at all.

    Otherwise, in a general sense:
    If one heats/you heat ice it melts/it'll melt.

    In reported speech, I'd say:
    He said that if she heated ice it would melt.
    or
    He said that if one heats/you heat ice it melts/it'll melt. or with back-shifting :
    He said that if one/you heated ice it melted/it would melt.

    Similarly, with your other pair of examples.
    When speaking in a general sense, you can also use When, Whenever, Every time, etc. in place of If.
    I don't think the zero conditional "puts some emphasis on her extraordinary abilities to melt ice". The focus is on the result that always happens when the condition is fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with your preference for the first conditional, but it is no better in my opinion.

  4. engee30's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I don't think the zero conditional "puts some emphasis on her extraordinary abilities to melt ice". The focus is on the result that always happens when the condition is fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with your preference for the first conditional, but it is no better in my opinion.
    I see your point, but you seem to have missed mine on this occasion, MikeNewYork.
    With conditionals, I can see that there is a difference when referring to things that are factual (contextual meaning) and potential (general meaning). With the former, I'd say you normally use a first conditional, whereas with the latter it can be either a zero or first conditonal.

    It's obvious that whenever you heat ice it melts. But when speaking of the same thing with the pronoun she used, to me, that calls for the first conditional. It is not the same as saying If one heats ice it melts.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    I see your point, but you seem to have missed mine on this occasion, MikeNewYork.
    With conditionals, I can see that there is a difference when referring to things that are factual (contextual meaning) and potential (general meaning). With the former, I'd say you normally use a first conditional, whereas with the latter it can be either a zero or first conditonal.

    It's obvious that whenever you heat ice it melts. But when speaking of the same thing with the pronoun she used, to me, that calls for the first conditional. It is not the same as saying If one heats ice it melts.
    Yes, I did miss your point. Now I understand what you were saying. I don't agree, however. The ice melts no matter which pronoun or person's name is used.

  6. engee30's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The ice melts no matter which pronoun or person's name is used.
    Couldn't agree more.

  7. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: back-shifting in indirect zero conditional sentences

    I am not very happy about the traditional labels for conditional sentences. However, if one must use them, I'd use:

    If she heats this piece of ice, it will melt. - First conditional, future possibility.
    If you/one heats ice, it melts.
    - Zero Conditional, general truth.
    If you/one heats ice, it will melt. - Zero conditional, general truth.

    Will in the third sentence is a modal expressing certainty about a general-time situation.

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