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  1. riquecohen's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
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      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Brazil

    • Join Date: Aug 2010
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    Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    In that they don't agree with me, they must be wrong.

    The American grammars I have consulted tell me that AmE usage is the same as BrE on this point, but I have met so many Americans who use would in the if-clause in cases where the books say it's incorrect that I am really not sure. Are we talking about usage or correctness? Perhaps they will be correct a hundred years from now, but it's regrettable that they are so ahead of their time.
    Most of the Americans I have met in recent years have been in the world of TEFL, and have had a sound education, so I am not talking about people who frequently make mistakes in grammar. This is also regrettable, because they are making mistakes.

    I also have the impression that Americans in general are more fastidious about following some rules than most British people - the subjunctive for example is more alive on your side of the pond than it is on ours, as is the use of whom.

    Could this be a case where American grammar books have not caught up with normal usage, or have I really just met the wrong Americans?
    Having lived abroad for the past eight years, I'm not able to say with certainty what "normal usage" is. Have you read John McWhorter's "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue?" While I don't necessarily agree, he makes an interesting case for "flexibility" in determining '"correctness."

  2. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Nov 2010
    • Posts: 5

    Re: 3rd conditional?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    We'll have to wait for a speaker of AmE to give a definitive answer. In the meantime, I'll just say that many Americans I have encountered seem to me to be very happy with: if I would have known that ...

    To me that is unacceptable in BrE.
    Well, in my (English) class whatever is correct in the Native Language (in this case AE), is accepted as correct. That's why I would like to know, and I don't want to change my AE inside out.

    'If it would have cured her, I would have used it'
    huh, interesting... but it is by BE standards still incorrect?

    In the Paul McCartney example, we are dealing with the hypothetical.
    When i say "Imagine" then that's hypothetical, is it not?

    • Member Info
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      • British English
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    Re: 3rd conditional?

    "Imagine you would have to go to another country and learn German."

    Tdol, I hope we can agree on what constitutes the Past Tense. Something that happened, Something which occurred. This is all you need to identify the Past Subjunctive. Look at any sentence containing what seems to be a past tense verb form. Ask yourself: Did this happen?
    I read a book. Past Tense.
    I wrote a poem. Past Tense.
    I would sit for hours by the river. Past Tense.

    I would kill you. You are not dead. I have not killed you. Subjunctive. Looks like the Past Tense, but describes an irreal situation.

    If your definition of Past Tense differs from mine, then that will cause you to draw different conclusions.

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