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    #1

    "I was going to" in other words

    Hello everybody ,

    I have some sentences for a review and possible correction.
    I would like to express past intention in various ways and I'm wondering whether the sentences below express roughly the same meaning :

    1.I was going to go to the movies tonight but I can't now
    2.I had planned to go... (the same continuation as in the previous sentence)
    3.I planned to go...
    4.I was about to go..
    5.I were to go..

    Are cited expressions all possible and common in everyday usage for the given context ? I tried to find some similar expression with a modal verb but nothing adequate came to my mind ; is there any modal that could fit in this sentence with an appropriate meaning?

    Thanks

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    #2

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello Velimir,

    #1 to #3 have roughly the same meaning; but #4 means "I was at the point of going" in a context such as "I had got ready to go, and was preparing to leave the house, when X happened, which prevented me from going."

    #5 isn't possible; "I were" can't stand as a main verb.

    For the additional "modal" version, which modal verbs have you already considered?

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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    #3

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello Mr.Pedantic

    Thanks for the clear explanation . As to the modals, I still could not think of some logical example,unless I rearrange the sentence .For example this sentence I understand as unfulfilled plan (under the condition that I'm telling this now (it is 11:30 pm here ) and the movie projection was at 20:00 pm)

    I should have gone to the movies tonight but something came up.

    But still I have doubt as to the usage of "should have" here . Does "should have have" maybe sound a bit too "obligatory" or it is neutral as to willingness of action of going to the movies ? More precisely, if I rephrased it to " I should have been there but something came up " , it sounds to me like "I was obliged to be there ..." and then it was not what I wanted to say.

    And what about the following two sentences :

    I was to go to the movie , but I can't now.

    or

    I was to have gone to the movie , but I can't now


    Thanks
    Last edited by velimir; 25-Oct-2007 at 23:00.

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    #4

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello Vel,

    For me, "I should have gone..." works; it can approximate to "It was planned that I would go...". As you say, there is some interference from the "ought to" meaning of "should", but the possible ambiguity is usually resolved by the context or the tone of voice.

    "I would have gone..." is also possible: this has an implication of wanting to go.

    And what about the following two sentences :

    I was to go to the movie , but I can't now.

    or

    I was to have gone to the movie , but I can't now
    Usually these forms have an implication of "an obligation imposed on the subject"; e.g.

    1. I was to have cooked dinner for 8 tonight, but I went to see a film instead.

    i.e. arrangements had been made for the dinner party, and it was the speaker's job to cook. ("I was to..." can be roughly paraphrased as "It was my job to...": "my job" can be as informal as a domestic chore, or as formal as an instruction to an agent in enemy territory.)

    The difference between the two versions is quite slight: in the second, the possibility ("going to the movie") seems more remote, from the point of view of "now".

    Also, with the first version, the possibility may still be open, unless the context or a subsequent statement (e.g. your "...can't...") closes the possibility.

    I hope that doesn't make it more puzzling let me know if so!

    Best wishes,

    MrP

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    #5

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello Mr.Pedantic

    Your explanations always address the essence of the question.The real-life examples of the possible situations of usage which you give as follow-up to your explanations clarify your point in a really convenient way. Thank you for that.
    As you have maybe noticed, my questions here was mainly related to modality (in a broader sense) and I hope that you'll not find a fault with my insisting on it. I found it a single most difficult part to grasp in my learning. Articles are still problematic for me too (I suppose for every serbian speaking learner) since we do not have similar concept in our language.Neither we have many other I think (The Present Perfect Tense is among them, as a tough topic I would say). When I have time I'll post some more detailed observations about it,and share my experience in learning English with others.

    Best wishes
    Last edited by velimir; 27-Oct-2007 at 12:01.

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    #6

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Quote Originally Posted by velimir View Post
    I hope that you'll not find a fault with my insisting on it.
    Not at all! As you may have noticed, modality is one of the major causes of disagreement between native speakers, on ESL forums which suggests to me that very few answers on the subject are likely to be definitive. So keep "insisting"!

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.


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    #7

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    Not at all! As you may have noticed, modality is one of the major causes of disagreement between native speakers, ...

    MrP
    And we have one more, Mr P. ;)

    [QUOTE=MrPedantic;221127]Hello Vel,

    For me, "I should have gone..." works; it can approximate to "It was planned that I would go...". As you say, there is some interference from the "ought to" meaning of "should", but the possible ambiguity is usually resolved by the context or the tone of voice.

    [color=red]It sounds like you're suggesting 'should' has an epistemic [certainlty] meaning here, Mr P. I'd suggest that it has a deontic [social] meaning that says, "It would have been a good thing if I had gone to the movie".

    [quote=velimir]But still I have doubt as to the usage of "should have" here . Does "should have gone" maybe sound a bit too "obligatory" or it is neutral as to willingness of action of going to the movies ?

    More precisely, if I rephrased it to " I should have been there but something came up " , it sounds to me like "I was obliged to be there ..." and then it was not what I wanted to say.

    The context would establish how much obligation there was or wasn't. In,

    "I should have been there",

    the speaker could be thinking "because it was such a damn good movie".


    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    "I would have gone..." is also possible: this has an implication of wanting to go.
    MrP
    To my mind, "I should have gone" has more 'wanting' in it than 'I would have gone'. The latter seems more a straight statement of fact. Can 'would have gone' ever be paraphrased as "it would have been a good thing, if ..."

    Modals are mind boggling but doncha think that they're oooooh so fun.

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    #8

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello,

    Mr.Pedantic,it is really encouraging to me,thank you very much.
    Riverkid thank you. As to me, modals are confusing thing that often makes me confused as to the real meaning that someone wanted to communicate. That would be a real definition of modals . I'm joking, although it is true that it is tough part of English. I find it interesting to discover ever new meanings that one single sentence may often communicate.Thank you for giving us all a hand in our mastering it.

    Velimir

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    #9

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Hello RK,

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    It sounds like you're suggesting 'should' has an epistemic [certainlty] meaning here, Mr P. I'd suggest that it has a deontic [social] meaning that says, "It would have been a good thing if I had gone to the movie".
    Not so much "epistemic", as the distinction between:

    1. It was planned that I would go...
    2. I was supposed to go...

    In spoken English, it seems to me, the tone of voice (as well as the context) would distinguish the two: #1 would have a sudden rising intonation and stress on "should" ("I should have gone..."), whereas #2 might be quite level in intonation until "movie".

    Your "good idea" interpretation may well be a third: cf. "I should have done that, too".

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    To my mind, "I should have gone" has more 'wanting' in it than 'I would have gone'. The latter seems more a straight statement of fact. Can 'would have gone' ever be paraphrased as "it would have been a good thing, if ..."
    I think a stressed "would" can convey "wanting", in that context:

    1. I would have gone to the movie, but I can't now.

    (Usual proviso about modality, however.)

    Best wishes,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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    #10

    Re: "I was going to" in other words

    Quote Originally Posted by velimir View Post
    As to me, modals are confusing thing that often makes me confused as to the real meaning that someone wanted to communicate. That would be a real definition of modals
    It's certainly a real use of modals if you're writing a report or proposal, or making a speech, your manipulation of modal verbs may well govern how that report or proposal or speech is received.

    Or to put it another way: X's "fine nuances" may well be Y's "equivocation and deliberate obfuscation".

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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