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  1. #1
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    Question factual conditional

    Hello, teachers.
    I seem to have a huge set of questions about 'conditional'.

    My first question is this.

    1. If I have to choose either coffee or tea, I will choose coffee.
    2. If I had to choose either coffee or tea, I would choose coffee.

    How are they different? Is there any specific context we use one sentence over another?

    And will if be not correct if I write

    If I have to choose either coffee or tea, I would choose coffee.

    Another questions can come later. One thing at a time...

    Thank you very much!

    erihime

  2. #2
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    2 seems to reflect a more hypothetical kind of situation, whereas 1 reflects more of a natural disposition.

    Regarding the other version "...have...would...", that's just ungrammatical.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Quote Originally Posted by HCaulfield View Post
    Regarding the other version "...have...would...", that's just ungrammatical.
    It's not ungrammatical at all. Check the huge (yet not always reliable) corpus called Google for "If I have to * I would" and you'll get over 100.000 results.

    As for the other two types, according to many sources

    (1) If I have to choose either coffee or tea, I will choose coffee

    refers to a hypothetical scenario which is likely to come true, while

    (2) If I had to choose either coffee or tea, I would choose coffee

    refers to a hypothetical scenario which is less likely to come true.

    Personally, I find this explanation flawed. It's better to see it as a matter of "graspable vs theoretical", or of "condition vs speculation". What I mean is that (1) describes that "event A >>leads to>> event B", while (2) describes that "in case of A >>>> B applies"

    I know that the difference might seem barely perceptible, but it is substantial.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Even when it is widely used, as proven by Google, it remains ungrammatical. Try "She don't" and you'll get 156.000.000 hits. :)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Fair enough about Google, but this (i.e. "...have...would...") can be also found in scholarly articles, and in countless cases in the British National Corpus.
    Check Cobuild Concordance and Collocations Sampler by putting if+PPS+VB+6would in the search box. [it means that it will search for "if+Personal Pronoun subjective (I, you, he, etc.)+present tense verb+would within 6 words]

    Some returned examples:

    if you become the First Prize winner, you would receive a message through official channels
    If I survive this extraordinary campaign she would become his wife

    if I answer that question honestly I would rather be across the street

    Trust me, it's grammatical

  6. #6
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Then I'm completely lost as to its meaning

  7. #7
    Philly is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Hi Mariner
    .
    While I agree that conditionals can be and are mixed depending on circumstances, etc., I'd be interested in knowing (1) what you think of the three examples you gave in your last post and (2) what you think the "justification" for the mixed conditional in each case might have been.
    .
    I'll be happy to give you my opinion about the 3 sentences, but I'd like to know yours first. (After all, you were the one who chose to post them).
    .

  8. #8
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Hi Philly,

    I admit that I chose the examples semi-randomly, and looking into them more carefully I realize that they are slightly atypical, and, strictly speaking, #3 (f I answer that question honestly I would rather be across the street) conveys the meaning of if I answer that question honestly [I will say that] i would rather be across the street

    Perhaps a more characteristic example would be:
    If I have to choose between these solutions I would prefer...

    In my opinion, whenever "would" is used in these cases, it's mostly connected with volition. Thus, many mixed conditionals can be formed in ways that would be considered "ungrammatical" by the idiotic grammar methods/books that talk of the 3 conditionals, disregarding cases such as:

    If you would send me the details, I would be grateful
    How can I talk to him, if he doesn't/won't listen (=refuses to)


    I'd be happy to hear your suggestions

  9. #9
    Philly is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: factual conditional

    Thanks, Mariner.
    .
    Here is my take on the sentences:
    if you become the First Prize winner, you would receive a message through official channels
    Assuming that the 'o' in 'become' wasn't simply a typo, this sounds like it could be sales ploy (trying to sell lottery tickets, for example):
    The IF half makes winning the "First Prize" sound more probable than it probably is, and the language in the second half of the sentence gives that fact away because it becomes more waffling (equivocal). It therefore sounds a little bit phony to me. This salesman would be better off sticking with a "standard" if-sentence format.
    If I survive this extraordinary campaign she would become his wife
    This makes no sense to me at all because I don't see any logical connection between the condition and the result. More context is needed.
    if I answer that question honestly I would rather be across the street
    I agree with your take on this sentence and the "would rather be" was probably predestined since it was likely a response to a question such as: "Where would you rather be right now?"
    .

  10. #10
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    Talking Re: factual conditional

    Hello to all!

    Thanks for the discussion. I really enjoyed reading the postings.

    However, your discussion put me into the deeper confusion... That's alright. None of the langauge is simple, right?

    I am going to read your postings again and to try to make sense out of them.The content is very interesting for me whose native language is not English.

    When I read newspapers, magazines, or articles, I try to see where people put 'the', 'a' or where they use the present perfect, etc. I presume people are writing gramatically correct English. However, it may not always be true... I guess I need to go back to those grammer books, don't I?

    Thanks anyway for a lot of input. I will keep reading and writing...

    erihime

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