Interested in Language
We had better stay on-topic or the moderators will, rightly, ask us to to do so.
What is all this strange talk about past tense to indicate future? You are dealing with the conditional here, a hyothetical situation introduced by the word 'imagine': what you imagine has not happened,
"Imagine you would have to go to another country and learn German." There is nothing wrong with this sentence. 'had to' = 'müsstest' 'would' = 'würdest'. That is the difference.
Stell dir vor, du müsstest in ein anderes Land ziehen und Deutsch lernen. Just by looking at the verb form in the translation, you can easily see that you are dealing with the Konjunktiv II. There are no past tense verbs in your sentence. 'ẃould' is the past subjunctive of 'will'.
If you had said something like
Imagine that, having recently got a job in Berlin, you would have to leave for Germany within a few weeks.
there would have been no problem.
Last edited by philo2009; 25-Nov-2010 at 08:30.
Oh yeah, you can use 'would' as the simple past of 'will', but not when you are talking about hypothetical situations, which, being such, have not happened, and can therefore not be located in past time. An example of such a sentence would be: 'Imagine you would have to go to another country and learn German.' 'Imagine' already says: this has not happened.
If you can locate this statement as something that happened somewhere in the past, then I should like to see what you call a possible future event, and how you would phrase a description of it! There is no matter of opinion here: an event that has not occurred is not the same as an event that has occurred. The former is irreal, the latter is past tense.
'would' in the sentence in question is a subjunctive. I find it strange that you should even try to dispute this, but maybe you have some kind of argument to put forward. I look forward to hearing it!
Tdol's words appear reasonable: "That is not a matter of fact but opinion and should be stated as such".
I disagree. You wish to say that a hypothetical situation can be described as something that 'happened' and that it 'happened' in the past, which is why past tense verb forms are used. By the same logic, because I use the word 'can' in 'I can' it must always mean I am putting things in tins, purely and simply because it is written the same as 'can'. You will, I hope agree, that this is not so, and that to try to describe the subjunctive as a form of past tense, because it is written the same, is nonsense.