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    #1

    Conditional setences

    A student asked me about the conditional sentence that appears in the Raymond Murphy book, Essential Grammar in Use, I was unable to give an answer so I've come to ask here.....

    In until 100, the sentence "If I had the money, he would buy a fast car" is used as an example of a type II conditional sentence. Under the sentence Murphy tells us "Usually had is past, but in this sentence had is not past."

    My student asked, "What tense is had then?"

    Thank you.

  1. Khosro's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Conditional setences

    Quote Originally Posted by dandred View Post
    A student asked me about the conditional sentence that appears in the Raymond Murphy book, Essential Grammar in Use, I was unable to give an answer so I've come to ask here.....

    In until 100, the sentence "If I had the money, he would buy a fast car" is used as an example of a type II conditional sentence. Under the sentence Murphy tells us "Usually had is past, but in this sentence had is not past."

    My student asked, "What tense is had then?"

    Thank you.
    There is no direct answer to this question. You can tell him/her about the difference between a real fact and a hypothetical fact which shows itself in the verb "have" being used as "had".

    And if he/she is an advanced learner you can tell him/her about subjunctive. Just 2-3 weeks ago another teacher on the forum wrote about a similar problem which prolonged to a discussion about "subjunctive". You might find the thread.

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    #3

    Re: Conditional setences

    It would have been better if Murphy had written "Usually had, a past tense form, refers to past time; in this type of conditional sentence, had refers to a hypothetical situation in the present or future".

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    #4

    Re: Conditional setences

    Thank you fivejedjon, that was helpful, as I'm in an Asian country my students seem a little fixated on grammar and want to know everything about every word that appears in a sentence, no matter how much I try to push them away from this.

    So the sentences form would be something like:

    If I had

    Conditional + subject + "verb have" used in the future simple past

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    #5

    Re: Conditional setences

    Quote Originally Posted by dandred View Post
    So the sentences form would be something like:

    If I had

    Conditional + subject + "verb have" used in the future simple past
    No. There is no such thing as a 'future simple past'; although some people still refer to a construction with would as a 'conditional tense', most writers today refer to a modal constrction.

    A very basic model of the construction of conditional sentences is:

    If I have enough money, I will buy a sports car next year.
    If + present, WILL: future real possibilty.

    If I had enough money, I would buy a sports car next year.
    If + past, WOULD: future less real hypothesis.

    If I had enough money, I would own a sports car now
    If +
    past, WOULD: counterfactual hypothesis abou the present..

    If I had had enough money, I would have bought a sports car last year.
    If + past perfect, WOULD HAVE: counterfactual hypothesis about the past.

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    #6

    Re: Conditional setences

    "Essential Grammar in Use" is a beginners level book. If your students are above beginner level, you should use "English Grammar in Use", also by Raymond Murphy, which is designed for intermediate students.

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    #7

    Re: Conditional setences

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Essential Grammar in Use" is a beginners level book. If your students are above beginner level, you should use "English Grammar in Use", also by Raymond Murphy, which is designed for intermediate students.
    Good thinking.

    In my (third edition), Murphy more helpfully writes:

    'When you imagine something like this, you use if + past (if I found /if there was /if we didn't etc.).

    But the meaning is not past.'

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    #8

    Re: Conditional setences

    Hello dandred,

    By the way, there is a direct answer to your student's question (What tense is 'had' then?): Simple Past Subjunctive had is identical in form to Simple Past Indicative had, but they express different meanings. The Past Subjunctive is used with Type II Conditionals to express an unreal situation; e.g., If Sue had the money (which she does not), Martin would buy a fast car.

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    #9

    Re: Conditional setences

    Thank you for the replies!

    I have a copy of the English Grammar in Use and even the Advanced Grammar in use. The student came to me with his book. I'll recommend the English Grammar in use to him.

    Thank you for your replies they have been very helpful. I can't belive I've only just found this site. Keep up the great work.

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    #10

    Re: Conditional setences

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Simple Past Subjunctive had is identical in form to Simple Past Indicative had, but they express different meanings. The Past Subjunctive is used with Type II Conditionals to express an unreal situation; e.g., If Sue had the money (which she does not), Martin would buy a fast car.
    This is correct. However as the only verb in English that has different forms for the past indicative and the past subjunctive is BE, and then only for the first and third persons singular, and as many speakers of BrE don't use the subjunctive even when its use is appropriate, some of us see little point in mentioning the subjunctive to learners.

    This is not an attempt to start a discussion here on whether or not the subjunctive should be taught - there are other threads on that. I am merely mentioning the point.

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