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    #1

    condition in reported speech

    Hello everybody

    This is my first post here and I would like to thank you for your precious work on helping us in mastering english language. My dillema concerns the usage of modals in expressing willingness or possibility in reported speech, and i append some sentences for review

    1.He said he would do what we asked him if we fulfil some conditions ( Is this sentence correct and does it convey the meaning of certainty of his intention?)

    2.He said he would have done it if we fulfil some conditions (Is this one correct and does it convey the meaning of possibility,willingness to do it under some conditions?)

    3.He said he was willing to do it if we fullfil some conditions (And is this one correct and if so ,does it convey the same meaning as the second sentence )

    With last two sentences I've wanted to express the meaning of "willingness" in his answer on our request ie.that he will consider and most probably accept our request under that conditions


    Many thanks

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    #2

    Re: condition in reported speech

    Hello Velimir,

    First of all, welcome to Using English! I'm glad you like it here.

    The first thing to note is that the choice of conditional statement does not necessarily indicate the intentions of the speaker. Thus in these two statements –

    1. If you do X, I'll do Y.
    2. If you were to do X, I would do Y.

    – it is not possible to ascertain whether the speaker does indeed intend to do Y, if the condition is fulfilled.

    It would be truer to say that #2 presents the same condition as #1 in a more tentative or deferential or remote way.

    It's even more difficult to ascertain the intentions of the original speaker in reported speech, because the apparatus of reporting (backshifting, etc.) can make the form of the original text uncertain.

    In your sentences:

    1. He said he would do what we asked him if we fulfil some conditions.

    — this could report either a type 1 or a type 2 conditional. Note that some (but not all) speakers would regard the if-clause as incorrect, and require this version:

    1a. He said he would do what we asked him if we fulfilled some conditions.

    2. He said he would have done it if we fulfil some conditions

    — this is not quite consistent: the "he would have done it" refers to an unreal result in the past, while "if we fulfil some conditions" refers to a condition that is still open.

    Cf.

    2a. He said he would have done it if we had fulfilled some conditions

    — this conveys the meaning of a willingness to do X in the past, if we had done Y in the past. It reports a type 3 conditional.

    3. He said he was willing to do it if we fulfil some conditions.

    — this is fine: it reports "I am willing to do it if you fulfil some conditions". However, again, some speakers might be more comfortable with:

    3a. He said he was willing to do it if we fulfilled some conditions.

    ____________

    Other members may disagree, though, as conditional statements are often much disputed on forums such as this. I may well have overlooked some aspect of the question. So watch this space!

    All the best,

    MrP

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    #3

    Re: condition in reported speech

    Hello again,

    Respected Mr.Pedantic your discussion is always a great help and I was delighted to get the answer from you .Best compliments for you once more, and thanks for the welcome.I would ask for some additional explanation and hope I will not be considered a bore for it.
    Let me cite this part of your answer “.. the apparatus of reporting (backshifting, etc.) can make the form of the original text uncertain” .Does it mean that the listener/reader depends on the context for the exact or subtle meaning. In this particular case could it be that the following sentence can have either of the two meanings quoted in the brackets :
    He said he would do what we asked him if we fulfilled some conditions
    ( he will do it definitely , surely 100% ) or ( he is willing to do it in that case but not 100%).
    What I was trying to do is to somehow soften the sense of the expression : “ If you do X, I'll do Y” , and make it sound less definite and determined ( or it sounds so only to me.. ). And finally I would like you to review the following two constructions if possible. The first is the one you’ve mentioned with subjunctive :
    1) If you were to do X, I would do Y .
    Would it be in reported speech as follows :
    1a) He said he would do Y if we were to do X
    And here’s the second one :
    2) If you would do X , I would do Y .
    and does the reported version goes like :
    2a) He said he would do Y if we would do X
    Are above constructions possible in English language and if possible some brief explanation about its usage would be welcomed . Sorry for asking in length, and thanks in advance for the answers .

    Best regards

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    #4

    Re: condition in reported speech

    You're welcome, Velimir – and please feel free to post additional questions!

    “.. the apparatus of reporting (backshifting, etc.) can make the form of the original text uncertain” .
    Sorry, I should have explained more clearly. I meant that sometimes a backshifted form can have more than one possible original. Thus:

    1. He said he would do it if we paid him £10.

    might report either of these sentences:

    2. I'll do it if you pay me £10.
    3. I'd do it if you paid me £10.


    Does it mean that the listener/reader depends on the context for the exact or subtle meaning. In this particular case could it be that the following sentence can have either of the two meanings quoted in the brackets :
    He said he would do what we asked him if we fulfilled some conditions
    ( he will do it definitely , surely 100% ) or ( he is willing to do it in that case but not 100%).
    You could assume that he means he'll do it definitely; but you wouldn't be able to tell whether he was willing or not.

    Tone of voice, facial expressions, etc. can convey willingness; but the conditional statement can only convey "if you do X, I'll do Y", with various degrees of softening – unless it includes an adverb such as "reluctantly", of course!

    What I was trying to do is to somehow soften the sense of the expression : “ If you do X, I'll do Y” , and make it sound less definite and determined ( or it sounds so only to me.. ).
    In that case, to soften "If you do X, I'll do Y", you could use the 2nd conditional, or "could"/"be able to" in the if-clause, e.g.

    4. If you were to give me £10, I'd do X for you.
    5. If you could get the shopping this weekend, I'll do all the cleaning.
    6. If you were able to get the shopping this weekend, I'll do all the cleaning.

    (If you examine the speech of people who are considered very courteous or polite, you find that they use many type 2 conditionals, and modalise many of their verbs with "could", "might", "be able to", etc.)

    And finally I would like you to review the following two constructions if possible. The first is the one you’ve mentioned with subjunctive :
    1) If you were to do X, I would do Y .
    Would it be in reported speech as follows :
    1a) He said he would do Y if we were to do X
    And here’s the second one :
    Yes, that would be ok; perhaps more common would be:

    7. He said he would do Y if we did X.

    2) If you would do X , I would do Y .
    and does the reported version goes like :
    2a) He said he would do Y if we would do X
    This combination might be found in the context of politely putting forward a suggestion, e.g.

    8. If you would prefer to use the desk in the corner, I would be happy to use this one over here.

    And yes, your reporting structure is fine:

    9. She said if I would prefer to use the desk in the corner, she would be happy to use that one over there.

    Or simply:

    10. She said if I preferred to use the desk in the corner, she would be happy to use that one over there.

    Have a good Tuesday,

    MrP
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    Not a professional ESL teacher.
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    #5

    Smile Re: condition in reported speech

    Hello again respected Mr.Pedantic,
    Your explanation was perfectly clear . When I look at it now I think that I was intuitively looking for some other grammatical form for expressing future intentions through modals in reported speech, I mean different to the backshifted simple future tense. It didn’t crossed my mind that the backshifted form can have more than one original . The examples that you used to indicate the nuances in the similar expressions ,was specially useful to me and I think I’ve grasped the meaning. Having a lack of conversation and therefore the real sense of english language , a sort of a detailed explanation and corrections like yours are really invaluable and cannot be replaced with any reading and listening ,or memorized grammar points ,at least, not for me now. And thanks for the invitation,I will certainly use it because there is a lot more which I would like to ask .

    Good Tuesday to you too, and best wishes for the rest of the week too

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    #6

    Re: condition in reported speech

    You're welcome – I'm glad it helped!

    All the best,

    MrP
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    Not a professional ESL teacher.
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