I would not be able to know what was going in the world.

tufguy

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"If I didn't read the newspaper, I would not be able to know what was going in the world." I read it in a grammar book written by Raymond Murphy. Is this part "what was going in the world" correct? Shouldn't we be saying "I would not be able to know what is going in the world"?
 
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tzfujimino

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It should be "... what was going on in ..."
:)
 

tufguy

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It should be "... what was going on in ..."
:)

But why "Was" we are not imagining about what is going on in the world? Whatever is going on in the world it is going on. We are just imagining "what would happen, if we didn't read the newspaper". That is why this part is in past tense but why "what was going on in the world"? If any sentence follows "If+did, would" structure then should it be in past tense as well?
 

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Could you please answer my question?
 

tufguy

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It's a kind of indirect speech.

When the form of 'know' is in a past tense, the verb in the indirect statement is normally backshifted.

I don't know what is going on ...
I didn't/wouldn't know what was going on ...


Does it happen with "Know" only or do we need to apply it whenever we talk about hypothetical situation? For example "If I didn't go there tomorrow, I wouldn't be able to know what happened there."
 

emsr2d2

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"If I didn't go there tomorrow" is a very unlikely start to any sentence.

If I don't go there tomorrow, I won't know what happens.
If I weren't to go there tomorrow, I wouldn't know what might happen.
If I hadn't gone there yesterday, I wouldn't have known/I wouldn't know what happened.

I'll be honest, tufguy - these are some tough constructions for advanced learners (and for some native speakers - I struggled with the second one!) You said that you read the original question in one of the Raymond Murphy books. My concern is that you're still trying to study constructions that are simply beyond your abilities.
 

Rover_KE

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My concern is that you're still trying to study constructions that are simply beyond your abilities.
... and for most of ours.:-(
 

tufguy

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"If I didn't go there tomorrow" is a very unlikely start to any sentence.

If I don't go there tomorrow, I won't know what happens.
If I weren't to go there tomorrow, I wouldn't know what might happen.
If I hadn't gone there yesterday, I wouldn't have known/I wouldn't know what happened.

I'll be honest, tufguy - these are some tough constructions for advanced learners (and for some native speakers - I struggled with the second one!) You said that you read the original question in one of the Raymond Murphy books. My concern is that you're still trying to study constructions that are simply beyond your abilities.

"If I weren't to go there tomorrow, I wouldn't know what might happen." What does this sentence mean?

I thought you got confused. Actually I was asking about the tense. If I have to go somewhere tomorrow and I am talking to someone and that person asks me that "What would happen, if I didn't go there tomorrow (I hope the question is correct)" then can't I say "I would not be able to know that what might happen, if I didn't go there"?

My question was about the sentence that follows "If+past tense, would" structure. We use it for hypothetical situations right? Piscean told me it has to do with "Know" form so I was asking do we need to follow this rule even if we are not using "Know" in the sentence?
 

tufguy

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You can, although I'd omit the 'be able to'. Delete the two commas and the two thats that I have underlined.




I did not. I told you about backshifting in indirect speech.

If I have to go somewhere tomorrow and I am talking to someone and that person asks me "What would happen, if I didn't go there tomorrow (I hope the question is correct)" then can't I say "I would not be able to know what might happen, if I didn't go there"?
 
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