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    #1

    Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Background: 153 miners are still being trapped in a Chinese flooded coal mine. We don't know how many are alive and how many are dead. A China's English news channel reports:

    If they did not survive, it would be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007.

    The report is written in subjunctive mood, but I think the hypothesis is real. Isn't it better to say:
    If they do not survive, it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007. ??

    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    I think it's real too, but it's past simply, hence 'did'. No subjunctive here in my opinion.

    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    Background: 153 miners are still being trapped in a Chinese flooded coal mine. We don't know how many are alive and how many are dead. A China's English news channel reports:

    If they did not survive, it would be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007.

    The report is written in subjunctive mood, but I think the hypothesis is real. Isn't it better to say:
    If they do not survive, it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007. ??

    Thank you.
    If they do not survive, it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007. This sentence is too direct, it is implying that they really think that this is going to be the most disastrous minig accident.
    Your first sentence is more uncertain, it is still possible that they survive or it is not.
    I think reporters use that language in order to cover their backs in a way, so that what they say don't sound alarmistic if they are not sure.

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    #4

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    Background: 153 miners are still being trapped in a Chinese flooded coal mine. We don't know how many are alive and how many are dead. A China's English news channel reports:

    If they did not survive, it would be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007.

    The report is written in subjunctive mood, but I think the hypothesis is real. Isn't it better to say:
    If they do not survive, it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007. ??

    Thank you.
    If you follow the prescriptive grammar rule, maybe the sentence should read
    "If they did not survive, it would be ... "
    However, to my ears, the other sentence "If they do not survive, it will be ... "
    sounds much better here, because it implies somehow we hope they survive.


    Not a native speaker

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    #5

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Quote Originally Posted by jiaruchan View Post
    Background: 153 miners are still being trapped in a Chinese flooded coal mine. We don't know how many are alive and how many are dead. A China's English news channel reports:

    If they did not survive, it would be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007.

    The report is written in subjunctive mood, but I think the hypothesis is real. Isn't it better to say:
    If they do not survive, it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007. ??

    Thank you.
    To me "If they do not survive, it will be ... " sounds more appropriate, because it is an open condition, it is possible that they either survive or not, and we are willing that they do survive. Unfortunately, if they do not, for some reasons (statistical or any other criteria), it will be China's most disastrous mining accident since 2007.

    PS Not a native speaker

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    #6

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Yes, but I think we can also talk about improbable situations with the past + would, it can sound less definite or if it is a news report they are using a more polite language.

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    #7

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    You seem to not like the idea the indicative mood here. Why?

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    #8

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    It's not that I don't like it, it's just that the other construction sounds too direct to me, it is sure that it's going to happen like in: If you study, you'll pass...If you do that..this other thing will happen (nearly for sure)

    While the past and would construction sounds tentative and likely to appear in a news report.

    But that is only my humble opinion and I think I might also be getting mixed up with the Zero conditional

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    #9

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Oh, but I'm not talking about changing it to 'if they don't survive...' I'm sorry for not being clear. What I have in mind is that the original sentence could be as it is and still be considered to have no subjunctive in it. Just the past indicative. The 'would' in the other clause could indicate that it's your way, but we use similar constructions in Polish, so maybe they're OK in English too. I didn't check it anywhere, I'm just asking.

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    #10

    Re: Subjunctive mood ' if '

    Quote Originally Posted by MASM View Post
    It's not that I don't like it, it's just that the other construction sounds too direct to me, it is sure that it's going to happen like in: If you study, you'll pass...If you do that..this other thing will happen (nearly for sure)

    While the past and would construction sounds tentative and likely to appear in a news report.

    But that is only my humble opinion and I think I might also be getting mixed up with the Zero conditional
    I guess when you mean "too direct" you mean "too conclusive", an "inference for sure". The first conditional construction means, that if the first sentence is true, then the second one will follow immediately.

    "If you study, you'll pass" does not imply that you will pass. It only gives you the certainty in case you study, that is, if you study. It does not mean you will probably study or not.

    The same situation happens with
    "If they do not survive ... "
    Nothing is assumed about the probability of their survival. However, based on other data, if they happen not to survive, it will be such and such.

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