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Thread: If

  1. #1
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    Default If

    What do these mean?
    1. If I did fall, I will sue you.
    2. If I did fall, I would sue you.
    3. If I do fall, I will sue you.
    4. If I do fall, I would sue you.

    Are these correct? What do they mean?
    5. If only I have a car, then I don't have to take the bus. (What does this mean?)
    6. If only I had a car, then I didn't have to take the bus. (What does this mean?)

    7. If only I had a car, I wouldn't have to take the bus.
    8. If only I had a car, I won't have to take the bus. (If 'won't is incorrect here, why? Is it because 'had' is past tense and it doesn't make sense to say that you won't be busing right now because you had a car in the past?)

    9. If you have a car in the past..(Is 'have' wrong here? Should it be 'had'?)

    10. If all else fails....('all' is singular here right? Which means 'everything' right?)
    Last edited by jack; 22-Nov-2004 at 11:05.

  2. #2
    TheMadBaron Guest

    Default Re: If

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    What do these mean?
    1. If I did fall, I will sue you.
    2. If I did fall, I would sue you.
    3. If I do fall, I will sue you.
    4. If I do fall, I would sue you.
    1 and 4 are incorrect.

    The simplest form is "If I fall, I will sue you."
    Here, you are going to do something that (you think) might be dangerous, but before you do it, you want to make it clear to the person you are talking to that he will be held responsible for any injury you might suffer.

    "If I fell, I would sue you"
    Here, you haven't agreed to do anything. It's hypothetical. You're just discussing it.

    You might use #2 or #3 for emphasis after a statement that acknowledges that it's unlikely that you will/would fall.

    "Since you have assured me that it is safe, and that I can't fall, I will climb onto your roof, but if I do fall, I will sue you."

    "If you could assure me that it was safe, I might climb onto your roof, but if I did fall, I would sue you."

    Are these correct? What do they mean?
    5. If only I have a car, then I don't have to take the bus. (What does this mean?)
    6. If only I had a car, then I didn't have to take the bus. (What does this mean?)
    They're both incorrect. The only correct form is #7.

    7. If only I had a car, I wouldn't have to take the bus.
    This tells us several things about you;
    You do not have a car.
    You have to take the bus.
    You don't like taking the bus.
    You want a car. ('If only' is similar to 'I wish'.) I think this is the most important meaning.

    8. If only I had a car, I won't have to take the bus. (If 'won't is incorrect here, why? Is it because 'had' is past tense and it doesn't make sense to say that you won't be busing right now because you had a car in the past?)
    'Won't' is incorrect, because it doesn't match with 'had'. However, you're mistaken if you've taken the sentence to mean that you had a car in the past. We use the past form of the verb with would/wouldn't to describe a theoretical situation, but in these cases, it doesn't refer to the past.

    'Fell' is the past tense of fall, but earlier, we used "fell" or "did fall" with 'would' when describing a hypothetical situation that might become a reality in the future. Now we're using 'had' in a similar way.

    7. If only I had a car, I wouldn't have to take the bus.
    "If only I had a car" = you wish you had a car now, and you hope that in the future, you will have a car.

    The hypothetical nature of the situation requires 'wouldn't'. It's not true to say that you "won't have to take the bus". On the contrary, you obviously WILL have to take the bus, because you DON'T have a car.

    It's okay to say "I am going out later. If it's raining, I will wear a coat."

    It's okay to say "I'm not going out today, but if I was going out, and if it was raining, I would wear a coat."

    It would be incorrect to say "If I was going out, I will wear a coat." I WON'T wear a coat, because I'm not going out.

    9. If you have a car in the past..(Is 'have' wrong here? Should it be 'had'?)
    Of course.

    If you find all this confusing, you aint seen nothing yet....

    7. If only I had a car, I wouldn't have to take the bus.

    To make #7 refer to the past, we need to use an auxillary verb. Unfortunately, the verb we must use is ALSO 'had'. So, we have to use 'had' twice in a row!

    "If only I'd had a car, I wouldn't have had to take the bus."

    Here, 'I'd' is short for 'I had', of course.... it may seem very strange that we must use the same word twice in a row, but the unabbreviated form would, indeed, be....
    "If only I had had a car, I wouldn't have had to take the bus."
    (But you didn't have a car, so you did have to take the bus.)

    To clarify (I hope)....

    You can use 'have' and 'won't have' to talk about the future.
    "I'm going to Littleton next week. I hope one of my cars is back from the repair shop by then. If I have a car, I won't have to take the bus."

    You can use 'had had' and 'wouldn't have had' to refer to the past.
    "I went to Littleton yesterday. If I had had a car, I wouldn't have had to take the bus.'

    To make sense of this, you must understand that 'have' means three different things here....

    1) 'Have' means to possess something;
    I have a car.

    2) 'Have' means to be obliged (to do something);
    I have to take the bus.

    3) 'Have' is an auxillary verb, used with a past participle to form the present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect tenses indicating completed action: "The troublemaker has gone for good."
    "I regretted that I had lost my temper."
    "They will have finished by the time we arrive."

    "If I had(3) had(1) a car, I wouldn't have(3) had(2) to take the bus."
    or
    "If I had(3) possesed(1) a car, I wouldn't have(3) been obliged(2) to take the bus.

    10. If all else fails....('all' is singular here right? Which means 'everything' right?)
    I'm not sure what you mean by "all" is singular.
    You could use 'everything' here. "If everything else fails...."
    'Everything' implies more than one thing. So, then, does 'all'.
    Last edited by TheMadBaron; 22-Nov-2004 at 22:52.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: If

    1. If all else fails....(Is 'fails' incorrect if it is 'fail'?)

    2. If only I had a car, then I didn't have to take the bus. (Why is this incorrect? "had' is past tense, and so is 'didn't'? Why do I have to use 'wouldn't'?)

    Are these correct? If not why?
    3. If I found out you’re going out with some guy and didn’t tell me, I’d screw your neck!

    4. If I found out that you’re going there and didn’t tell me, I am going to kick your butt.
    5. If I found out that you’re going there and didn’t tell me, I would kick your butt.
    going to kick your butt.
    6. If I find out that you’re going there and don't tell me, I will kick your butt.

    7. I find out that you’re going there and didn't tell me, I will kick your butt. (If 'didn't' here is incorrect, why?)

    What do #5 and #6 mean?
    Last edited by jack; 24-Nov-2004 at 01:39.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: If

    Thanks, TheMadBarton. You did a great job on explaining.

    Are these correct? If not, why?
    1. I could have been $50000 closer to getting my new house if I didn't buy a new car. (If I am referring to the past, I can't use 'didn't'? Why not?)
    2. I could have been $50000 closer to getting my new house if I hadn't bought a new car.

    What do these mean?
    4. If you came here to do this, can you leave right now?
    5. If you came here to do this, could you leave right now?

    6. You said if I did this, you would not be mad anymore. (Imaginary?)
    7. You said if I do this, you will not be mad anymore. (Fact?)

    8. If I hadn't helped you, you would have failed. (Correct?)
    9. If I haven't helped you, you would have failed. (Why can't I use 'haven't' here?)
    Last edited by jack; 30-Nov-2004 at 19:56.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: If

    What do these mean?
    1. I didn't know if you would like it or not.
    2. I didn't know if you will like it or not.

    3. I don't know if you will like it or not.
    4. I don't know if you would like it or not.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: If

    Hi, TheMadBaron,

    Don't be mad at me.

    Your explanation is clear and good. I have two questions,

    (1)It's okay to say "I'm not going out today, but if I was going out, and if it was raining, I would wear a coat."
    Have you thought about using "were" while you were writing this sentence?

    (2)Is it possible to have a structure like, "If + present tense, Subject + past auxiliary."
    If I go there, my boyfriend might get mad. (OK)
    If I go there, my boyfriend would get mad. ( I think this one is ok, becasue the main clasue refers to a possibility similar as the previous one.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: If

    Is this sentence incorrect? If so, how could I repair it?
    1. If they didn't repair it we could have been in a car accident.

    Could I repair it it like these:
    2. If they didn't repair it we could be in a car accident.
    3. If they hadn't repair it we could have been in a car accident

    Are these correct? What do they mean? For the question above, should I use #4 or #5? Why?
    4. Could I repair it it like these:
    5. Could I repair it it like this:

    Last edited by jack; 12-Dec-2004 at 09:32.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: If

    2&3 are both correct grammatically, but it depends on the time you are referring to- 2 is future and 3 is past.

    Use 5.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: If

    Thanks.

    4. Could I repair it it like these:
    5. Could I repair it it like this:

    Use 5.
    1. Why use #5?

    What do #1 and #2 mean?
    1. Could I repair it it like these:
    2. Could I repair it it like this:

  10. #10
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    Default Re: If

    Quote Originally Posted by jack
    Is this sentence incorrect? If so, how could I repair it?
    1. If they didn't repair it we could have been in a car accident.

    Could I repair it it like these:
    2. If they didn't repair it we could be in a car accident.
    3. If they hadn't repair it we could have been in a car accident

    Are these correct? What do they mean? For the question above, should I use #4 or #5? Why?
    4. Could I repair it it like these:
    5. Could I repair it it like this:

    There's a variation in dialect. In North American English, 2. and 3. would be,

    2. If they don't repair it we could be in a car accident.
    3. If they hadn't repaired it we could have been in a car accident.

    I agree with tdol on 4.

    We could repair it like this, as I am doing it (the act) now, in this manner.
    We could repair it like these, as I am doing them (the acts) now, in these manners.

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