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  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #1

    If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    1. If he went there, he would see her.
    2. If he went there, he will see her.
    3. If he went there, he saw her.
    4. If he went there, he could see her.
    5. If he went there, he might see her.
    6. If he went there, he may see her.

    I think 'went' in 1 is the past subjunctive, while the ones in 2 and 3 are the simple past.
    How about the ones in 4, 5, and 6?
    I am not a teacher.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    As I have said in other threads, it doesn't really matter whether it's subjunctive or indicative; the form is the same for all verbs except BE. Even with BE, many speakers of BrE don't use the subjunctive, or even know what it is. However, if you wish for some reason to use the label, you are right about the first three.

    It could be either in the next two; it depends on context. It's indicative in the last.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    if you wish for some reason to use the label
    The reason is that the indicative and the subjunctive here does and does not refer to the past respectively.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    If most speakers of BrE can't distinguish between an indicative and a subjunctive, there is no significance in the labels. It's context that tells us the time and likelihood, not mood.

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    'If he went there, he may/can see her.'

    'Went', an indicative here, refers to the past because 'may/can see' could not refer to the past, right?
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    If most speakers of BrE can't distinguish between an indicative and a subjunctive, there is no significance in the labels. It's context that tells us the time and likelihood, not mood.
    The problem with this is that it leaves out the student. Many students have the subjunctive in their L1. They know what it means, and they're asking for clarification of its meaning in English. It is used in English, whether English native speakers know it or not, and some of us in AusE, and AmE recognise it when it occurs.
    You can call "If it were ..." a use of the past tense, but the student knows it isn't. This can cause problems.
    It's also likely that most English-language speakers couldn't differentiate an adjective from an adverb. But I don't think teachers should stop using those terms.

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    'If he went there, he may/can see her.'

    'Went', an indicative here, refers to the past because 'may/can see' could not refer to the past, right?
    Do you mean 'went' is subjunctive? Your sentence is confusing in a few respects. You seem to be saying that since 'may/can' can't refer to the past, then 'went' has to - which is a bit odd.
    "If he went there, he might have seen her." This all refers to the past.

  8. Piscean's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    The problem with this is that it leaves out the student. Many students have the subjunctive in their L1. They know what it means, and they're asking for clarification of its meaning in English. It is used in English, whether English native speakers know it or not, and some of us in AusE, and AmE recognise it when it occurs.
    In those languages that have a past subjunctive, that form is recognisably different. In modern English, the past indicative and subjunctive forms (except for BE) always have identical forms. It therefore seems to me pointless to continue to maintain that we have a subjunctive mood in the past tense in English when we can recognise it only by meaning. It seems to me to be simpler, and more helpful to say that the so-called 'past' tense in English is a 'distancing' tense. It can distance the situation denoted in time (Luke arrived yesterday​), in reality/factuality (If I had more time, ...) and in directness (What was your name). If learners ask about how English deals with their subjunctive in the second (and, for some languages, the third) of these, the simple answer is that we use the past tense.

    The reality is that in modern English the past subjunctive is dead (except for BE). This mood is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late mood. Bereft of life, it rests in peace.

    You can call "If it were ..." a use of the past tense, but the student knows it isn't. This can cause problems.
    I use the 'if it were form', but that doesn't mean I have to claim the existence of a separate mood for this. It just happens that some speakers of BrE use exceptional forms of the past tense of BE (an exceptional verb anyway) for unreal/counterfactual situations. The same is true for speakers of other varieties of English; some of them simply use these forms more than many speakers of BrE.

    It's also likely that most English-language speakers couldn't differentiate an adjective from an adverb. But I don't think teachers should stop using those terms.
    Adjectives and adverbs frequently have different forms. That makes a big difference.

  9. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Do you mean 'went' is subjunctive?
    I mean 'went' is NOT subjunctive in 'If he went there, he may/can see her'. Am I right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    "If he went there, he might have seen her." This all refers to the past.
    The 'went' above is not subjunctive either, and the speaker does not know whether he went there. Am I right?
    I am not a teacher.

  10. Raymott's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: If he went there, he saw/will/would/could/might/may see her.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    The reality is that in modern English the past subjunctive is dead (except for BE). This mood is no more. It has ceased to be. It has expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late mood. Bereft of life, it rests in peace.
    No, it's just resting. They tire easily, the Subjunctives.

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