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      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
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      • Hong Kong
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 468
    #1

    If need be

    Is the phrase "if need be" needed not to change into the past tense even though the main clause is in the past?

    "I'll work all night if need be. (=if it is necessary)"
    "I would work all night if need be."

    Thanks for advice.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #2

    Re: If need be

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    Is the phrase "if need be" needed not to change into the past tense even though the main clause is in the past?

    "I'll work all night if need be. (=if it is necessary)"
    "I would work all night if need be."

    Thanks for advice.
    "I would work all night if need be" is not in the past tense, Dee. 'would' is not the past tense of will. Both are tenseless modal verbs. Both describe a future.

    The only difference between 'will' and 'would' is that with 'would' the speaker sees the working as more tentative, less real, a smaller chance of being realized.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Hong Kong
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 468
    #3

    Re: If need be

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    "I would work all night if need be" is not in the past tense, Dee. 'would' is not the past tense of will. Both are tenseless modal verbs. Both describe a future.

    The only difference between 'will' and 'would' is that with 'would' the speaker sees the working as more tentative, less real, a smaller chance of being realized.
    Thanks, riverkid. What if the sentence is changed into a reported speech? Is "if need be" required to change in tense or does it remain intact? Thanks again.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #4

    Re: If need be

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepurple View Post
    Thanks, riverkid. What if the sentence is changed into a reported speech? Is "if need be" required to change in tense or does it remain intact? Thanks again.
    Let's try it and see.


    Fred: "I'll work all night if need be. (=if it is necessary)"

    Joe: Hey Bill, what did Fred say?

    Bill: He said that he'd work all night if need be/if we had to/if we have to.

    OR

    Bill: He said he'll work all night if we have to/if there's a need/if we had to.

    ============

    Deepurple: "I would work all night if need be."

    Vanilla Fudge: Eric, what did Dee say?

    Eric: She said she'll work all night if need be/if there's a need/if there were a need/if you want her to/if you wanted her to/...

    OR

    Eric: She said she would work all night if need be/if there's a need/if there were a need/if you want her to/if you wanted her to/...

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