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  1. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
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    #1

    if were + to-infinitive

    Hello.

    Somebody told me that native speakers usually said "if were + to-infinitive" instead of "if + past simple" in unreal condiationals (I don't remember what it calls properly). What would you say?

    1a. If they were to hold an election now, the Republicans would undoubtedly lose.
    1b. If they held an election now, the Republicans would undoubtedly lose.

    2a. If this technology were to become available, I would be able to expand my business
    2b. If this technology became available, I would be able to expand my business

    3a. If this theater were to close, it would be no entertainment in the city.
    3b. If this theater closed, it would be no entertainment in the city.

    Personally, I'd definitely go for "b" sentences. What do you think?
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

  2. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    Hello Boris,

    I think both forms are fine. To me the "a." forms are more traditional, the "b." forms more modern and concise. I would probably chose b. as well, but as I said, I think both forms work form me.

    One slight change is needed in sentences 3a and 3b. You need to replace the "it" with "there":

    3a. If this theater were to close, it there would be no entertainment in the city.
    3b. If this theater closed, it there would be no entertainment in the city.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    I prefer the a. forms. They are subjunctive.

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    #4

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    The a) forms could suggest an even smaller chance of the event occurring.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I prefer the a. forms. They are subjunctive.
    As, except with the verb 'BE', past subjunctive forms have the same appearance as past indicative forms, you could say the the verb forms in the (b) sentences were subjunctive

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    One could also say they were indicative. The a. forms are obviously subjunctive.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    One could also say they were indicative.
    You could, but you might be asked to support your statement if you said that.

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    They are in indicative form.

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    #9

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    The two forms are indistinguishable in the past, except in the verb be.

  8. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: if were + to-infinitive

    But, as you posted, the subjunctive form might indicate a smaller possibility. The purpose of mood is for the speaker/writer to provide an opinion. It is the choice of the speaker writer to provide the verb form.

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