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Thread: conditional If

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    #21

    Re: conditional If

    I'm afraid I will always have to make my opinion clear if the need arises.

    I believe very strongly that "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" is simply not true.

    While there has been significant disagreement among grammarian over the last five or more decades on such things as appropriate labels for word classes/parts of speech, there has been general agreement on the 'meanings' conveyed by most conditional sentences. Learners need to know this.

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    #22

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I'm afraid I will always have to make my opinion clear if the need arises.
    Of course.

    I believe very strongly that "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" is simply not true.


    Yes, I said I fully understand this but that I disagree. We've gone over this. We agree to disagree.

    there has been general agreement on the 'meanings' conveyed by most conditional sentences. Learners need to know this.


    Hmm. Up to a point, certainly. However, if what you claim is the case, this doesn't mean that there has been a similarly clear agreement in psycholinguistics or philosophy. In fact, it may well be that grammarians tend to be more conservative in their approach to meaning than others, which I suspect may be the case here. To make a generalisation, they certainly seem to me to be less precise and less in-depth regarding the meaning of abstract ideas such as conditionality, counterfactuality, possibilty, reality, than many philosophers and semanticists.

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    #23

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    In fact, it may well be that grammarians tend to be more conservative in their approach to meaning than others, which I suspect may be the case here. To make a generalisation, they certainly seem to me to be less precise and less in-depth regarding the meaning of abstract ideas such as conditionality, counterfactuality, possibilty, reality, than many philosophers and semanticists.
    When discussing what people mean and understand by the use of a past/preterit tense when used in the protasis (the if- clause), they are not concerned with the philosophical concept of conditionality.

    I have to confess that I do not understand what you mean by 'more conservative in their approach to meaning'. Many modern writers on grammar devote a great deal of attention to the precise meaning of the terms they use in their academic discipline. In the introduction to his work on English verbs*, Declerck for example, takes 77 pages to define and clarify the terminology he proposes to use.

    However, in what we are discussing, precise definitions or deep philosophical thoughts about abstract ideas are not relevant. We are dealing with one point: You think that when we use second conditionals, it's because we see there being no chance of the state or event happening. I think that, while the speaker sees a future situation mentioned in what I call hypothetical conditionals as less likely than a future situation in what I call predictive conditionals, the situation is rarely intended or understood to be counterfactual. The fact that 'second conditional' utterances about present time are counterfactual does not mean that those about future situations must be.

    We don't need experts on philosophy or semantics to know that one of us is mistaken. The fact that that people who have devoted most of their working lives to studying English grammar** have similar thoughts to mine does not, of course, prove that my ideas are right, but it does suggest that I am not just a deluded maverick.

    * Declerck Renaat (2006.12-89), The Grammar of the English Tense System.
    Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter

    ** For example, Bas Aarts, Rodney Huddleston, Geoffrey Leech, Geoffrey Pullum, Raymond Quirk.


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    #24

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    When discussing what people mean and understand by the use of a past/preterit tense when used in the protasis (the if- clause), they are not concerned with the philosophical concept of conditionality.
    I don't think I follow. How is the meaning of the condition clause not concerned with conditionality? Do you mean that the conditionality comes from the entire thought, not the protasis alone?

    I have to confess that I do not understand what you mean by 'more conservative in their approach to meaning'. Many modern writers on grammar devote a great deal of attention to the precise meaning of the terms they use in their academic discipline. In the introduction to his work on English verbs*, Declerck for example, takes 77 pages to define and clarify the terminology he proposes to use.
    My point here, however accurate, was that it is not a grammarian's job to concern himself with meaning as much as it is a semanticist's or a philosopher's job. I assume that when a modern grammarian writes a book, a lot of the ideas about meaning come from work already done by other (non-grammarian) academics. That may be an incorrect assumption.

    However, in what we are discussing, precise definitions or deep philosophical thoughts about abstract ideas are not relevant.
    Or not possible. What exactly are we discussing, by the way? It seems that your main aim here is to challenge what I said in post #8.

    We are dealing with one point: You think that when we use second conditionals, it's because we see there being no chance of the state or event happening.

    Okay, yes, let's stick tightly to this point. If you are going to challenge this, then I really need to expand much more on what I meant, because I think you may have misunderstood. Please remember that in post #8, I did attempt to make it clear that I was providing what I thought was a generally useful way of looking at things. This is a pedagogical question. If you disagree, then okay, fine.

    I think that, while the speaker sees a future situation mentioned in what I call hypothetical conditionals as less likely than a future situation in what I call predictive conditionals, the situation is rarely intended or understood to be counterfactual.
    Yes, that's right. It would be unusual for a speaker to consider a future event as a fact, and so a future situation is equally unlikely to be counterfactual.

    The fact that 'second conditional' utterances about present time are counterfactual does not mean that those about future situations must be.
    No. Is that what you thought I was saying? I didn't mean to say that. I believe that facts relate to only past and present events. I don't believe that there are future facts. (Well, actually, my own view on this his is not quite that simple. Do you really want me to go into this?)

    We don't need experts on philosophy or semantics to know that one of us is mistaken.
    What is that supposed to mean?!

    The fact that that people who have devoted most of their working lives to studying English grammar** have similar thoughts to mine does not, of course, prove that my ideas are right
    Absolutely. Of course I do understand, though, that it gives you a sense of confidence that you are right.

    You may have realised after many of our previous discussions that to claim that you are right simply because you are repeating what Quirk or Huddleston and Pullum say is not an effective means of persuading me.

    but it does suggest that I am not just a deluded maverick.
    I do not for a second believe that you are either deluded or a maverick. If you are calling me this, okay, I hear you. I have no response to make. There is no need for snide remarks.

    Do you really want to carry on with this discussion? I'm not finding it enjoyable or educational. Shall we just wait until the next time this same issue comes up?
    Last edited by jutfrank; 13-Apr-2019 at 14:30.

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    #25

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Do you really want to carry on with this discussion? I'm not finding it enjoyable or educational. Shall we just wait until the next time this same issue comes up?
    If we don't continue the discussion here, it will come up again, and sidetrack yet another thread as we go over the same things again. I think there may be a misunderstanding that could be resolved soon. I'll therefore stick to what I think is the main point, and not respond to some of your other points here. My fresh responses are in blue. The QUOTES are simply for background.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean
    We are dealing with one point: You think that when we use second conditionals, it's because we see there being no chance of the state or event happening.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank
    If you are going to challenge this, then I really need to expand much more on what I meant, because I think you may have misunderstood.

    Expansion may not be necessary if my understanding of what follows in this thread is correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean
    I think that, while the speaker sees a future situation mentioned in what I call hypothetical conditionals as less likely than a future situation in what I call predictive conditionals, the situation is rarely intended or understood to be counterfactual.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank
    Yes, that's right. It would be unusual for a speaker to consider a future event as a fact, and so a future situation is equally unlikely to be counterfactual.
    We agree on that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean
    The fact that 'second conditional' utterances about present time are counterfactual does not mean that those about future situations must be.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank
    No. Is that what you thought I was saying? I didn't mean to say that. I believe that facts relate to only past and present events. I don't believe that there are future facts.
    You wrote in post #8 "... 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". Had you added 'of present-time situations' after 'second conditionals', I would have said nothing. It seems now that this is what you meant, since you wrote in your last post "It would be unusual for a speaker to consider a future event as a fact, and so a future situation is equally unlikely to be counterfactual". It seems that we may be in general agreement after all. Am I right?


    OK. I think I have stuck to the main point. I'll just clarify one thing:


    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank
    I do not for a second believe that you are either deluded or a maverick. If you are calling me this, okay, I hear you.

    I neither thought you believed I was deluded/a maverick nor intended to suggest that you were. I intended merely to point out that my ideas were fairly mainstream.

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    #26

    Re: conditional If

    If I were a fruit, I would be an apple. ( no chance to happen)
    If I were a doctor ,I would help you . (no chance to happen because I am an engineer now) ( a little chance to happen because I am still 12 years old. I should study hard)
    If I were rich , I would buy a car.(a little chance to buy because I am poor. I should word hard to get more money)
    I am sure I am away from your discussion but just for participating .
    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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    #27

    Re: conditional If

    Piscean, I'm not interested in arguing with you about who is right. I am, however, open to friendly discussion in the spirit of learning something new from you, and/or clarifying my own thoughts on things.

    I'd like to know the nature of your distinction between future hypothetical conditionals and predictive conditionals. I think that it is here that we have different views. It seems that you mean that the situations imagined are both seen by the speaker as 'possible', right? The difference being that hypothetical conditionals express 'less' possibility than predictive ones.

    Have I got that all that right?

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    #28

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by abo.omar View Post
    I am sure I am away from your discussion but just for participating .
    As you started the thread, you have every right to participate. It is jutfrank and I who have hijacked the thread.

    If I were a fruit, I would be an apple. ( no chance to happen) Right. I am not a fruit now, and I will not be a fruit in the future.

    If I were a doctor, I would help you . (no chance to happen because I am an engineer now) ( a little chance to happen because I am still 12 years old. I should study hard)
    It would be clearer if you put time adverbials in:
    If I were a doctor now, I would help you. Not possible; I am not a doctor but an engineer.
    If I were a doctor when you became old , I would help you. There is some chance of this as I am only twelve, but I do not present this situation as very likely.



    If I were rich , I would buy a car.(a little chance to buy because I am poor. I should word hard to get more money)
    Once again, it would be clearer if you put time adverbials in.
    If I were rich now, I would buy a car. Not possible. I am not rich.
    If I were rich by Christmas, I would buy a car.
    There is some chance of this as Christmas is some months away, but I do not present this situation as very likely.

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    #29

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    If I were rich by Christmas, I would buy a car. There is some chance of this as Christmas is some months away, but I do not present this situation as very likely.
    Omar, this is where Piscean and I disagree.

    My view is that if you want to present the situation of you being rich by Christmas as a real possibility (however unlikely), you should use a first conditional, i.e., If I am rich by Christmas, I will buy a car.

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    #30

    Re: conditional If

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Omar, this is where Piscean and I disagree.

    My view is that if you want to present the situation of you being rich by Christmas as a real possibility (however unlikely), you should use a first conditional, i.e., If I am rich by Christmas, I will buy a car.
    I don't know how to say it, but when I read Mr Piscean 's post, I told myself 'it is better to say if I am rich...'I felt that , because I thought it is a strong possibility as I determined a near point of time.
    So I agree with you relating to or concerning this sentence.
    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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