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Thread: conditional If

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    #11

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by abo.omar View Post
    If the bank gives me the promotion I deserve, I will buy the one-million-dollar car.
    That means you feel you may get it soon.

    If the bank gave me the promotion I deserve, I would buy the one-million-dollar car.
    That means you feel you may not get it soon.
    Right?
    Put very simply, yes, that's good enough for me.

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    #12

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Put very simply, yes, that's good enough for me.
    In post number 7 ,it was written 'give' not 'gives'. I thought because it is a 'collective noun'. Why did you write it with 's'?
    i
    I am not a teacher.
    I am not a native speaker.
    I am not asking for free answers to homework questions.


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    #13

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    I wonder about that. If I'd bought the lottery ticket, I'd say "If I win," even though it's unlikely. I'd only say "won" if I didn't have a ticket and was just fantasizing.
    I see the idea, but I used to work in a betting shop and think most gamblers know in their hearts that the house always wins. But we can change it from the gambler to an honest spectator, who would use would.

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    #14

    Re: conditional If

    American speakers tend to use a singular verb after collective nouns. British speakers can use the singular or the plural, though the plural is probably winning the war. However, in cases where the British see the collective as a whole rather than a group, the singular still wins- BrE speakers may say that the company want to buy another company, but they will say that the company is being sold.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 12-Apr-2019 at 12:28. Reason: fixing typo

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    #15

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    in general, I think it's a useful rule to remember that when we use second conditionals, it's because we see there being no chance of the state or event happening.

    I do not agree.

    When we use second conditionals with reference to present time, then the situation referred to is indeed counterfactual.

    1. If my father were alive, he'd be appalled by the current situation. My father is not alive

    If we are using them with reference to future time, then we we simply see the chance of the event happening being less real than if we use first conditionals. The reality may be effectively zero, (#2), but is not necessarily so, (#3).

    2. If the sun exploded tomorrow, we wouldn't know about it for eight minutes.
    The chance of this happening is infinitesimal

    3. If Theresa May revoked Article 50 tomorrow, there would be riots in the street.
    The speaker sees this situation as very unlikely, though not necessarily impossible. Only the speaker knows how unlikely they consider this. All we can say is they consider it less likely than if they'd said If Theresa May revokes Article 50 tomorrow, there will be riots in the street.

    4. If we moved out to Beroun, we'd probably need to buy a car. I did actually say that to my wife last year. At the time, we were considering moving out of the centre of Prague. Beroun was simply one of the possibilities. It was less likely than some of the other places we were thinking of, but it was still a possibility.
    Last edited by Piscean; 12-Apr-2019 at 19:02. Reason: typo

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    #16

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I do not agree.
    Yes, I know. I remember from previous discussions about this. You might remember that in my way of understanding, there is no 'more real' or 'less real', but only either real or unreal.

    I think that this difference of understanding is fascinating, but also probably too profound and abstract to try and thrash out here. In any case, I will bear this difference in mind the next time this point issue comes up, in order to avoid any contradiction.

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    #17

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post

    I think that this difference of understanding is fascinating, but also probably too profound and abstract to try and thrash out here.
    I see it as neither abstract or profound.

    I am not alone in my understanding of 'second' conditionals:

    In referring to imaginary past events,the hypothetical forms in dependent clauses (in practice mostly if-clauses)normally have the categorical sense of 'CONTRARY TO FACT', since it is not difficult to have knowledge of of past events [...]

    Non-past imaginary happenings do not usually have such uncompromising implications. In the present, the sense is not so much 'contrary to fact' as 'CONTRARY TO ASSUMPTION', and in the future it is weakened further to 'CONTRARY TO EXPECTATION':

    If you really cared for your children, you'd look after them properly
    ('... but I assume you don't care for them').
    If it were to snow tomorrow, the match would have to be cancelled ('... but I expect it will not snow').

    The second statement does not rule out the possibility of snow but, on the other hand, it is more disbelieving (and less pessimistic) than the real condition of: If it snows tomorrow, the match will have to be cancelled.

    Leech, Geoffrey (2004.124-5), Meaning and the English Verb. Harlow: Pearson Longman.


    [...]
    iii a. If he loves her, he'll change his job. b. If he loved her, he'd change his job.
    iv.a. If you leave now, you'll miss the lunch-hour traffic.
    b. If you left now, you'd miss the lunch-hour traffic.
    [...]
    These examples illustrate an important difference between two kinds of conditional construction, open [as in iiia/iva] vs remote [as in iiib/ivb].

    The open type characteristically leaves it open as to whether the condition is or will be fulfilled: he may love her or he may not; you may leave now or you may not.
    The remote type, by contrast,generally presents the fulfilment of the condition as a more remote possibility. So [iiib] suggests a readiness to believe he doesn't love her; this is the version I'd use, for example, in a context where he is not planning to change his job and I'm arguing from this that he doesn't love her. Similarly, [ivb] presents your leaving now as somewhat less likely than in the case of [iva].

    Huddleston, Rodney and Pullum, Geoffrey (2005.46-7), A Student's Introuction to English Grammar. Cambridge: CUP.


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    #18

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I am not alone in my understanding of 'second' conditionals:
    That may be the case, but it may not be.

    Are you suggesting that you have your own understanding? Or just that you defer to Leech, Huddleston, and Pullum? Even so, you do have to interpret what they mean, when they use very abstract psychological ideas about such things as possibilty, reality, etc.

    Where I think we disagree (please correct me if you think I'm wrong) is on the interpretation and/or accuracy of this (bold) part in Leech:

    The second statement does not rule out the possibility of snow but, on the other hand, it is more disbelieving (and less pessimistic) than the real condition of:If it snows tomorrow, the match will have to be cancelled.

    and these parts of H & P:

    The remote type, by contrast,generally presents the fulfilment of the condition as a more remote possibility. So [iiib] suggests a readiness to believe he doesn't love her; this is the version I'd use, for example, in a context where he is not planning to change his job and I'm arguing from this that he doesn't love her. Similarly, [ivb] presents your leaving now as somewhat less likely than in the case of [iva].

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    #19

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Are you suggesting that you have your own understanding? Or just that you defer to Leech, Huddleston, and Pullum?
    In the many years I have been interested in the tense system in English, I have read probably most major grammars of English published between 1586 and 2011 as well as a few books by Greek and Roman writers. While the things I write (for example, the series of articles on conditionals beginning here) are my own thoughts, I cannot claim that my ideas have not been influenced by writers from (alphabetically) Aarts to Zandvoort) or from (chronologically) Dionysius Thrax to Aarts.

    Even so, you do have to interpret what they mean, when they use very abstract psychological ideas about such things as possibilty, reality, etc.
    While I would not be surprised if some philosophers turned 'possibility' and 'reality' into some very abstract psychological ideas, my impression is that most grammarians use these words in the the same way as the (moderately educated) man in the street.

    Where I think we disagree (please correct me if you think I'm wrong) is on the interpretation and/or accuracy of this (bold) part in Leech:

    The second statement does not rule out the possibility of snow but, on the other hand, it is more disbelieving (and less pessimistic) than the real condition of:If it snows tomorrow, the match will have to be cancelled.
    If you think that this is not an accurate presentation, then you and I do disagree.

    and these parts of H & P:

    The remote type, by contrast,generally presents the fulfilment of the condition as a more remote possibility. So [iiib] suggests a readiness to believe he doesn't love her; this is the version I'd use, for example, in a context where he is not planning to change his job and I'm arguing from this that he doesn't love her. Similarly, [ivb] presents your leaving now as somewhat less likely than in the case of [iva].
    I agree with H & P.

    I also agree with Quirk et al (1985.1010) ... the hypothetical meaning is more absolute in the past, and amounts to an implied rejection of the condition; whereas with present and future reference the meaning may be merely one of negative expectation or assumption, the positive not being ruled out completely.

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    #20

    Re: conditional If

    Okay, Piscean, I understand. We can agree to disagree on some points, then.

    Let's try to remember this the next time the issue comes up so that we can give learners clear and useful advice.

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