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  1. #1
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    Question Tense and meaning confusion.

    Hello all.

    I am hoping that one of you may be able to shed a little clarifying light on a tiny point of contention I have had with my girlfriend.

    Now, I am not an expert in the correct terminology for certain uses and modes of the English language, so please forgive my attempts at explanation.

    In a conversation earlier on MSN, my g/f made the below statement:

    "i would actually love to spend an evening in high protocol mode, if only to prove to You that i -can- do it and i -do- love it"

    Now, the context of the sentence is not important or in question, but the usage of the present singular 1st person ,'can' and 'do', caused a little ripple.

    I curiously asked if she therefore had experience of (spending an evening in high-protocol mode), for surely the present is suggestive of active experience, of knowledge gained by participation or observation? She replied no, simply that she *knew* she liked it without having done 'it'.

    The fact of anything having been done or not is moot, but My question is this. Surely if someone wished to say that they hadn't done something but felt/knew/were sure that they 'would' or 'could' like it, then the present singular 1st person would be the wrong tense to use? If so, what would be the right tense to use? Could you explain? She insists that 'do' can also mean 'will', that experience is not always necessary to make a statement of certainty. Am I wrong in thinking that 'do' and 'can' suggest experience, and if there is no-experience then they would be the wrong words to use to describe assumption or expectation or even presumption of enjoyment, or anything; as opposed to almost empirical awareness and fact?

    I hope I've not meandered too much, and that My question is relatively clear. Hope to read explainations from you.

    DrJ.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Tense and meaning confusion.

    The use of 'do' suggests that she has experience of it to me, so it doesn't work in the context for me. 'Can' is less clearcut- given that we often use it with the meaning of 'will be able', then I think that it could be used here to show confidence in her ability, despite the lack of experience..

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    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Tense and meaning confusion.

    I don't know whether I understand you but my quetsion is: Why should the present tense involve (active) experience? The verb itself carries the meaning whether ability (can) or ability + practical experience (be able to. Even this difference is not really clear in the present. In the past (could /was able to) is much clearer because practice refers to past experience. Do in your sentence is for emphasis.

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    Buddhaheart is offline Member
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    Default Re: Tense and meaning confusion.

    If I may look at it from another angle, doesn’t the principle of the sequence of tenses require the subordinate if clause be in the past since the principal clause is (I believe) in the past and no exception here I could see?

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    CHOMAT is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Tense and meaning confusion.

    I would // if only to prove / I can / I do love it.
    I've reckoned the core of the question lies in the validity of do and can together with would .
    experience/ do and can. do / present was also presupposed.

    We should first be very cautious with tenses/ time and linguistic marks.
    I first noticed the rhetoric tone of the utterance. ( actually, prove...)
    the main clause ( I would) could be regarded as the second argument of this development). It could have been at the end .It comes as a proof of an inner conviction which does not stem from any experience or observation.
    relative clause that I do love it or I can do it stand as the first argument of this sentence prior to the proof 'would'
    I do love it called emphatic just marks off the fact that the speaker endows the predicative relation[ I--- love to spend] without any reference to present or actual experience.
    Does do also work as an anaphoric link ? The context before might enlight this choice. Does the speaker feel the urge to prove something again?
    The inner conviction is nearly akin to a mere statement ( an assertion). However we remain in the field of metalinguistics and those marks simply betray the speaker's intentions.)
    I would therefore rephrase the initial utterance into :

    1) I love high protocol.( I'm convinced of this I KNOW it)..
    1')then I can do it.
    2Now, to convince you too, If there is an opportunity of an evening, I'll prove you I love it.
    Would the argument be as cogent if the aforementionned principle
    was applied?
    I would...... If only to prove you that I could do it ?
    I'm in doubt about it.

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