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    #1

    if we won't be able to act

    Hi everybody,

    "I think that we couldn't survive a second, if we wo'nt be able to act".
    Can someone explain what type of conditional is that? Why is he using will after if?
    The structures I've studied are not similar to that.
    Can you help please?
    I am just a learner trying to understand the language.

    Thank you

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    #2

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    That is not an acceptable sentence. It's difficult to suggest really natural sentences, because I don't know what you mean by 'act', but these are less unnatural than the original:

    I think that we couldn't survive a second if we weren't able to act.
    I think that we can't survive a second if we aren't able to act.

    More natural still would be:

    I don't think we could survive a second if we weren't able to act/unless we were able to act.
    I don't think we can survive a second if we aren't able to act/unless we are able to act.

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    #3

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    That was Marlon Brando talking about acting. he compared acting to lying. the actors and everybody else lie, by not saying something we think, or saying something we don't think. That was the context.

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    #4

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    The original "I think that we couldn't survive a second, if we wo'nt be able to act" is still unnatural English. I don't think that even Brando would have written those words.

    The most natural in that context would be:

    I think that we couldn't survive a second if we weren't able to act.
    I don't think we could survive a second if we weren't able to act.
    Last edited by 5jj; 08-Jul-2012 at 06:10. Reason: typo

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    #5

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    Well, i didn't say he wrote , i just listened to him Marlon Brando Interview 1973 (3/6) - YouTube
    Brando on The Dick Cavett Show, June 12, 1973.
    And I was asking myself about the structure, as I said before I am just a learner trying to understand the language, your language and your country really fascinate me.

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    #6

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    at 6.28

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    #7

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    It is difficult to be sure, but I think he actually said, "I think that we couldn't survive a second, if we weren't * able to act". At the spot I have marked with an asterisk, I think he uttered a short /b/ sound, as if about to start another word, and then immediately corrected himself and continues with 'able'.

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    #8

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    It's not very clear, but it sounded like weren't be able. If so, then be is probably a mistake- he's hesitating and changing a lot as if he's finding it difficult to find the words for what he wants to say.

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    #9

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    If Tdol and I are right, then carla guaraldi has fallen into the very common trap of hearing what one expects to hear rather what is actually said. (This happens to most of us at times, carla; this is not a criticism of you.) Because carla's brain knows that 'weren't be able to' is not a possible English construction, it assumes that the words not heard were 'won't be able to', which are possible, though unnatural in this particular sentence.





    ps. I expect that some of you did not notice the inappropriate word 'not' in "...it assumes that the words not heard were 'won't be able to', ...". Your brain will have interpreted my intention correctly even if the words themselves made no sense.

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    #10

    Re: if we won't be able to act

    Hi 5jj,
    Thank you very much indeed.

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