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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Nov 2003
    • Posts: 2,715
    #1

    if only

    Dear teachers,
    I found the usage of 'if only' difficult.
    a. If only one had an unlimited supply of money!
    Can I say : If only one would have an unlimited supply of money!
    b. If only they were still alive!
    Can I say: If only they would still be alive!
    c. If only the committee would approve the regulations and put them into effect.
    Can I say: If only the committee approved the regulations and put them into effect.

    If I can then could you please kindly explain the difference between the two patterns?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 484
    #2

    Re: if only

    Quote Originally Posted by jiang View Post
    Dear teachers,
    I found the usage of 'if only' difficult.
    a. If only one had an unlimited supply of money!
    Can I say : If only one would have an unlimited supply of money!
    b. If only they were still alive!
    Can I say: If only they would still be alive!
    c. If only the committee would approve the regulations and put them into effect.
    Can I say: If only the committee approved the regulations and put them into effect. No

    If I can then could you please kindly explain the difference between the two patterns?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you in advance.

    Jiang
    In (a) and (b) you can't have would in the if only part of the sentence, only in the main clause even if it isn't expressed. In both these sentences, the speaker knows she can't change the situation:

    a. If only one had an unlimited supply of money ... but one hasn't and there's nothing one can do about it.

    b. If only they were still alive ... but they're not, they're dead.

    (c) is another matter. The speaker hopes her wish will come true and knows that this is not impossible. The use of would here conveys this meaning.

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