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  1. Lenka's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2004
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    #1

    if-clauses

    1) Sue has applied for the job but she isn't very well qualified for the it. I'll be surprised if she gets it.

    2) I think Jill will get the job. I'll be very surprised if she doesn't get it.


    I don't understand why the first conditional was used! I'd rather say "I would be surprised if she got the job." (in the first sentence; in the second similarly)

    Why is the first conditional used here? If the speaker is feeling it's almost impossible for the other person (ad 1) to get the job, (ad 2) not to get the job, why is he using the first (and not the second) conditional?

    Is it also possible to use the second conditional in the sentences?


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #2

    Re: if-clauses

    Lenka: 1) Sue has applied for the job but she isn't very well qualified for the it. I'll be surprised if she gets it.

    2) I think Jill will get the job. I'll be very surprised if she doesn't get it.


    I don't understand why the first conditional was used! I'd rather say "I would be surprised if she got the job." (in the first sentence; in the second similarly)

    Why is the first conditional used here? If the speaker is feeling it's almost impossible for the other person (ad 1) to get the job, (ad 2) not to get the job, why is he using the first (and not the second) conditional?

    Hi Lenka. There isn't a magical cut-off point between what's called the first and second conditional. It's more a sliding scale. Two people can have different feelings of doubt so to describe the same situation, one could choose 'will' and another 'would'.

    By using 'will' instead of 'would', the speaker is expressing less doubt, greater assurance with respect to their feelings. Using 'would' just shows the speaker is less sure of what they're saying.

    Even when a person is 100% sure of something, they might use the more doubtful conditional for other reasons.

    Jane: If I weeent to the pary, weeell, I'd wear my blue dress.

    Brian: There's no way on god's green earth that she'll miss that party. She's just trying to squeeze her boyfriend.


    Is it also possible to use the second conditional in the sentences?

    Absolutely, as described above.

  2. Lenka's Avatar

    • Join Date: May 2004
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    #3

    Re: if-clauses

    OK, thank you for your explanation!

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    #4

    Re: if-clauses

    I'd agree with Riverkid. Some websites seem to imply that the "2nd conditional" always relates to less likely hypotheses, but that's not the case. You sometimes use the 2nd when giving advice, for instance:

    1. If you installed Firefox, you wouldn't have all these problems.
    2. If you turned left at the crossroads, you'd get to the town centre much more quickly.

    I would rather say that the "2nd conditional" is more "remote" than the "1st conditional".

    MrP

  3. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #5

    Re: if-clauses

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Even when a person is 100% sure of something, they might use the more doubtful conditional for other reasons.
    Jane: If I weeent to the pary, weeell, I'd wear my blue dress.
    Brian: There's no way on god's green earth that she'll miss that party. She's just trying to squeeze her boyfriend.
    Indeed -- a lot of the time it's about what the speaker wants you to believe.

    I am reminded of the fuss about OJ Simpson here. A lot of people believe that he was guilty and that his book was a confession -- but he wrote it in the 3rd conditional ("If I had killed her, this is how I would have done it...").

    There is a subtle difference between 1st and 2nd conditional, though, even in this case -- although the difference is so subtle it's hardly noticeable:

    I'll be very happy if she gets it. = there is a possibility she will get it
    I'll be very surprised if she gets it. = there is a small possibility she will get it, but I believe it is more likely she won't.
    I'd be very surprised if she got it. = there is a very tiny possibilitiy she will get it, but I am prepared to stake my reputation on her not getting it.

    The difference between the first two sentences is one of context rather than grammar. Grammar alone isn't enough to tell you how the speaker really feels.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #6

    Re: if-clauses

    I think we should see if we can get Mike, Tdol, BobK, Coffa and a number of others on board and then we can declare this a special day of agreement.

    I believe, RB that Juice's book is entitled, "If I did it, ..." ; an interesting departure from what many would consider the 'right' way and certainly different from what many ESLs are taught.

    Note Lenka, how Mr P even used a more tenuous way to signal agreement with me; "I'd agree with riverkid". I can't begin to suggest why he chose <I'd> over "I agree" but it illustrates to you that these things are not so cut and dried as the first/second/third conditional rules would have you believe.
    Last edited by riverkid; 27-Nov-2006 at 03:27.

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    #7

    Re: if-clauses

    Just to toss my two cents here, Lenka.

    If more than one native English speaker in ten-thousand could define a conditional and explain how it is used, I would be astounded.

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