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  1. #1
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Default Sequence of tenses (#4)

    Could anybody please help me understand why the following underlined parts are kept as a present tense, not a past tense? In my understanding, if they are followed by the rules of the "sequence of tenses," they should be a past tense, no??

    Example 1: It would be unforgivable if this turns out to be true.
    Example 2: He told the directors he would sue them if the company takes anti-takeover measures.
    Example 3: She said that she would not run if that political party fields its own candidate.

    If the above underlined parts were changed to the past tense, how would they sound?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sequence of tenses (#4)

    The "sequence of tenses" is not very useful, I'm afraid.

    In each case, the present tense indicates that the condition is very possible. It is possible that "this" in example 1 will turn out true; it is possible that the company will take anti-takeover measures; and it is possible that the political party will field its own candidate.

    In if-clauses, we use the past tense to indicate that a condition is highly improbable, impossible or unreal:

    If the moon was made of cheese... (but it's not made of cheese)

    If pigs could fly... (but pigs can't fly)

    If I lived in Australia... (but I live in Germany)

  3. #3
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Default Re: Sequence of tenses (#4)

    I see, so does it mean that these three sentences are gramatically correct just as written (= underlined parts with the present tense)? Do you mean that I should change these underlined parts only if these "if-clauses" indicate the condition which is highly improbable, impossible, or unreal? Is my understanding correct?

    By the way, does this principle apply to formal writing as well?

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