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  1. tkacka15's Avatar
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    #1

    capitulated

    However, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un subsequently increased his nationís military readiness, declared frontline areas to be in a "quasi-state of war," and set a 48-hour deadline for military action unless South Korea capitulated to the North's demands. (Voice of America website.)

    Why is the verb "capitulated" used in the simple past in the above sentence as an eventual capitulation may occur in the future? Does that verb have a hypothetical meaning here and is used in a sort of conditional type 2 construction?

    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: capitulated

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Tkacka:

    Thank you for asking such a fascinating question. I would like to share a few ideas (not "answers") with you. I have made up three sentences.

    1. Mars has set [present perfect] a deadline for military action unless Jupiter capitulate.

    a. "Capitulate" is the so-called subjunctive. In older English, it was common to use the subjunctive after the conjunction "unless."

    2. Mars has set a deadline for military action unless Jupiter capitulates.

    a. "Capitulates" is the indicative. That's the "s" form that most speakers use today after "unless."

    i. The subjunctive "capitulate" might still be used in poetry, etc.

    3. Mars set [past tense] a deadline for military action unless Jupiter capitulated.

    a. I think that you can now answer your own question.

    i. It seems that the past tense verb ("set") has pulled the present subjunctive "capitulate" or the indicative "capitulates" to the past tense "capitulated." This is called the sequence of tenses in English.



    *****


    If you want to see examples, simply go to the "books" section of Google and type in: unless capitulated [Do NOT use quotation marks.]

    Here are just two examples that I found. All emphases are mine.

    a. "He threatened the company with 'vast fines' unless it capitulated." -- DAMAGE CONTROL (2013) by Dezenhall and Weber.
    b. "[H]e received an ultimatum that unless [his] forces capitulated, ...." -- DEGREES OF COURAGE (2012) by Vester.


    {IF my ideas are accurate, I want to give 100% credit to Professor George Oliver Curme's 1931 masterpiece called A Grammar of the English Language.)
    Last edited by TheParser; 23-Aug-2015 at 23:24.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: capitulated

    Quote Originally Posted by tkacka15 View Post
    However, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un subsequently increased his nation’s military readiness, declared frontline areas to be in a "quasi-state of war," and set a 48-hour deadline for military action unless South Korea capitulated to the North's demands. (Voice of America website.)

    Why is the verb "capitulated" used in the simple past in the above sentence as an eventual capitulation may occur in the future? Does that verb have a hypothetical meaning here and is used in a sort of conditional type 2 construction?

    Thank you.
    All of these things are in the past.
    If the increase, the declaration, and the setting of the deadline were in the very recent past, with the capitulation still in the future, then it would have used present perfect and the present: He has increased, ... [has - implied, not repeated] declared,... [has - implied, not repeated] set ... unless SK capitulates...
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. tkacka15's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: capitulated

    Thank you, Barb D, for the reply. I'm with The Parser on that. It's a subjunctive. The second thought I had was that the verbs in the simple past preceding "capitulated" triggered the back-shift of tense in "capitulate".

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    #5

    Re: capitulated

    Actually, I think that The Parser is suggesting it could be a present subjunctive or indicative backshifted because of the sequence of tenses, which is not exactly the same- more akin to the changes made in indirect speech. In this case, given that virtually no one uses the present subjunctive in if/unless clauses, it is more likely to be a backshifted indicative following his argument, as he says that the present subjunctive is more likely to occur in older English or maybe poetry, and possibly for rhetorical effect.

    I think the present tense would work better if it were a conditional as it would imply a greater degree of likelihood, so it is more likely to be a backshifted first conditional, in which case the original verb is most likely to be indicative. I think the North Koreans said If you don't capitulate, we will..., rather than if you didn't capitulate , we would.... The change of tenses is to do with the sequence of tenses more than the likelihood of their response.
    Last edited by Tdol; 25-Aug-2015 at 12:00.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: capitulated

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I want to give 100% credit to Professor George Oliver Curme's 1931 masterpiece called A Grammar of the English Language.)
    Curme devotes nearly forty pages of his masterpiece to an analysis of how the subjunctive was used 85 and more years ago. His citations include sentences from the works of several writers from the nineteenth century.

    Little of what he wrote is relevant to modern British English. I doubt if much of it is relevant to modern American English.
    Last edited by Piscean; 25-Aug-2015 at 23:01. Reason: typo

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