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  1. #1
    NewHope is offline Senior Member
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    Normal grammatical order

    I'd like to know the normal grammatical order of "Were it left to me".

    Context::
    Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

    =============================
    But it has been surprisingly hard to pin down exactly how this nuclear reaction takes place.

    Does "pin down" mean "limite"? Or should it mean "to explain clearly"?

  2. #2
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Normal grammatical order

    Quote Originally Posted by NewHope
    I'd like to know the normal grammatical order of "Were it left to me".

    Context::

    Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

    =============================
    But it has been surprisingly hard to pin down exactly how this nuclear reaction takes place.

    Does "pin down" mean "limite"? Or should it mean "to explain clearly"?

    were it left to me - This is normally "if it were left to me". It's possible to begin a second or third conditional sentence with "were". This could be considered an inversion. It's more formal. It's not something that is used often in English, but it is used. It has a more serious tone.

    were + noun or noun phrase = if + noun or noun phrase + were

    were + it = if it were


    In your example sentence "pin down" means "define". I take "pin down" to mean "define". As Cambridge Dictionaries Online points out, "pin down" can also mean "discover exact details about something". I suppose if we discover exact details about something, then we can also say that we discover the definition of something.

    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/defi...&dict=CALD

    Dictionary.com has this to say about "pin down":

    pin down

    To fix or establish clearly: was finally able to pin down the cause of the disease.

    pin down

    Fix or establish clearly, as in The firefighters finally were able to pin down the source of the odor. [Mid-1900s]

    Here, it would appear that Dictionary.com understands "pin down" as I do in your example sentence.

    pin down

    v 1: define clearly; "I cannot narrow down the rules for this game"

    http://dictionary.reference.com/sear...amp;q=pin+down

  3. #3
    NewHope is offline Senior Member
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    Cool!

    Thank you!

    PS。 I didn't get "It's possible to begin a second or third conditional sentence with "were"" fully.

    The sentence in the thread is a "second conditional sentence"? Or third?

  4. #4
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewHope
    Cool!

    Thank you!

    PS。 I didn't get "It's possible to begin a second or third conditional sentence with "were"" fully.

    The sentence in the thread is a "second conditional sentence"? Or third?
    You're welcome.

    Your example sentence in the thread is a second conditional. Its formal tone is marked not only by beginning the sentence with "were", but also by using "should" in the result clause. Normally, "would" is used.

    Now, in order to understand the second and third conditional, I'll refer you to a link right here at UsingEnglish. I could explain it, but I think I'll save that work for when I write my own conditional sentence tutorial.

    8) :D

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles...ditionals.html

    Read the next section of this tutorial - The Zero Conditional
    Other sections: Zero Conditional | First Conditional | Second Conditional | Third Conditional

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles...nditional.html

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles...nditional.html

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles...nditional.html

    http://www.usingenglish.com/articles...nditional.html

  5. #5
    NewHope is offline Senior Member
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    Five links!

    I'd read them carefully later.

    Thank you.

  6. #6
    Steven D's Avatar
    Steven D is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewHope
    Five links!

    I'd read them carefully later.

    Thank you.
    Hi,

    I'll read them carefully later.

    will - spontaneous decision to do something in the future

    We don't use "would" in that manner for the future. We use "would" for possibilities we imagine in the present or the future, as well as other things of course.

    If I had time, I'd read it now. I'd read it tomorrow morning, but I won't have time then either. It'll have to wait until tomorrow night.

    would have + past participle - imaginary result for a completed action

    I would've called you to say I'd be late if I had known there was going to be so much traffic.


    1. I didn't call.

    2. I didn't know there was going to be so much traffic.

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    Re: Normal grammatical order

    Quote Originally Posted by NewHope
    I'd like to know the normal grammatical order of "Were it left to me".

    Context::
    Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
    In addition, you could also try rephrasing the sentence, like this,

    1. If it were left up to me...
    2. If the decision to have a government without newspapers or to have newspapers without a government were left up to me, I should not hestitate a moment to prefer the latter. :wink:

    Note that, If it were left up to me... means the same things as Were it left up to me.... There's also, If he had ~ Had he. By changing the word order (i.e., it were to were it; he had to had he), "If" is no longer required.

    All the best, :D

  8. #8
    Steven D's Avatar
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    Re: Normal grammatical order

    By changing the word order (i.e., it were to were it; he had to had he), "If" is no longer required. <<

    I should've remembered to include that in my post. It's good that you caught it.


    :D 8)

  9. #9
    Natalie27 Guest

    Re: Normal grammatical order

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    By changing the word order (i.e., it were to were it; he had to had he), "If" is no longer required. <<

    I should've remembered to include that in my post. It's good that you caught it.


    :D 8)
    I must sooooo backwards on this one but honest to God I have never once heard anyone use an inversion starting with "were". It just doesn't sound right. Someone said it's a formal way of speaking/writing???...but it's news to me. However I agree with Cassy that we use third conditional version starting with "Had/have...". That's very common.
    Are you sure about the second conditional inversion????

  10. #10
    Steven D's Avatar
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    Re: Normal grammatical order

    Quote Originally Posted by Natalie27
    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    By changing the word order (i.e., it were to were it; he had to had he), "If" is no longer required. <<

    I should've remembered to include that in my post. It's good that you caught it.


    :D 8)
    I must sooooo backwards on this one but honest to God I have never once heard anyone use an inversion starting with "were". It just doesn't sound right. Someone said it's a formal way of speaking/writing???...but it's news to me. However I agree with Cassy that we use third conditional version starting with "Had/have...". That's very common.
    Are you sure about the second conditional inversion????
    Yes, I'm sure. It works in mixed conditional forms as well.

    Here's a pdf document. I only use page two of this document. Take a look at page two, and see what Simon says. Simon says: http://www.longman.com/ae/incharge1/pdf/ic1_unit11.pdf

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...+for+this+*%22

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...mp;btnG=Search


    8) 8) 8) :D

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