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    • Join Date: Jul 2010
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    #1

    Please help if you could

    I come across this website I I found something I couldn't solve, please help if you know the answer. The website, grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/auxiliary.htm title:Uses of Will and Would", has this definition for modal verb would:

    "
    Would can also be used to express willingness:

    * Would you please take off your hat?

    It can also express insistence (rather rare, and with a strong stress on the word "would"):

    * Now you've ruined everything. You would act that way.

    and characteristic activity:

    * customary: After work, he would walk to his home in West Hartford.
    * typical (casual): She would cause the whole family to be late, every time.

    In a main clause, would can express a hypothetical meaning:

    * My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.


    Finally, would can express a sense of probability:

    * I hear a whistle. That would be the five o'clock train.
    "


    The sentence in blue is the one I have problem with. This statement is hypothetical and yet it uses present tense after would, which is totally contradict to 2nd conditional rule. Why?

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    #2

    Re: Please help if you could

    '...if I let her eat...' means '...if I allowed her to eat...' or '...if I permitted her to eat...'

    Does that help?

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: Please help if you could

    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePenguin View Post
    "
    In a main clause, would can express a hypothetical meaning:

    * My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.

    Which present tense word are you concerned about? And what word do you think should be used instead of that word?
    2006


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    #4

    Re: Please help if you could

    Sorry, I still don't get it
    Rover_KE, you say that
    '...if I let her eat...' means '...if I allowed her to eat...' or '...if I permitted her to eat...'
    If we change "let her eat" to "allowed her to eat", don't we need to change "what she wants" to "what she wanted" as well? Verb after "let" should be put to its original form, this one I understand, but the clause "what she wants" says this is a present tense hypothesis, why would can still be used here instead of will? Following is yet another example:

    I would weigh a ton if I eat what I want.

    Could anyone who knows please tell me why?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Please help if you could

    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePenguin View Post
    Following is yet another example:

    I would weigh a ton if I eat what I want.

    Could anyone who knows please tell me why?
    I would weigh a ton if I ate what I want.

    I will weigh a ton if I eat what I want.


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    #6

    Re: Please help if you could

    emsr2d2
    What would you say about this example then?

    My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.

    A present tense hypothesis after would, how do you analyze it?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Please help if you could

    Quote Originally Posted by LittlePenguin View Post
    emsr2d2
    What would you say about this example then?

    My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.

    A present tense hypothesis after would, how do you analyze it?
    I wouldn't. "Let" is the past tense of "let"! The second half of the sentence begins with a past tense.


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    #8

    Re: Please help if you could

    emsr2d2
    Even as you said, "let" has the same form in past and present tense, my point is, how do you explain the clause "what she wants"? Which is in present tense. Should we simply change the sentence from
    i) My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wants.
    to
    ii) My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I let her eat what she wanted?
    Are you saying sentence i) is wrong?

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    #9

    Re: Please help if you could

    I think that the blue sentences can be simply considered to be future conditional, and I don't see the need to use past tense verbs.

    My cocker spaniel would weigh a ton if I (would) let her eat what she wants.

    I would weigh a ton if I (would) eat what I want.

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    #10

    Re: Please help if you could

    Quote Originally Posted by David's Safe Grammar View Post
    Consider another context: "I would rent that house if I were you." That is "would" plus a "were" (past in form, but actually present/future hypothetical).
    It seems more accurate to call it contrary to fact. It's the subjunctive "were".
    And I think it's different than the conditional situation.
    2006

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