If one were a wise person

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keannu

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Someone asked me what "one" means in 1 and if 1 makes a correct interpretation. These two are examples of hypothetical conditionals in my grammar book. I wonder if 1 is right in that it tried to explain a hypothetical conditional.
Or does it have to be interpreted in a specific context where you can replace an existing person with a hypothetical person?

gz26)
1.A wise person would not do such a thing.
= If one were a wise person, he(she) would not do such a thing.
2.An American would not use that word.
= If he/she were an American, he/she wouldn't use that word.
 

probus

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2 is grammatically sound, but its second statement is not logically equivalent to its first.

An American would not use that word = No American would use that word, a more general meaning than that an individual American wouldn't.

Turning to 1, I would never mix one in one clause with he or she in the other. If one were a wise person, one would not do such a thing :lol:
 
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keannu

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2's context is like this. In this context, is 2's conversion logical if that word is "I should say you don't"?

...An American student tells the story of how he was surprised when he was in a foreign country. He said to a native, "I don't speak your language very well." The native replied, "I should say you don't." An American would have commented, "Well, you have only been here two months." or "But you are making progress."...

2.An American would not use that word.
= If he/she were an American, he/she wouldn't use that word.
 

5jj

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2.An American would not use that word.
= If he/she were an American, he/she wouldn't use that word.
Probus's response to your original question applies to this one.
 

BobK

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:up: The hypothesis refers to the person, not to their Americanness.

b
 

BobK

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...
Turning to 1, I would never mix one in one clause with he or she in the other. If one were a wise person, one would not do such a thing :lol:
I believe that rule applies strictly to Br Eng (and Canadian, perhaps? ;-)). I feel I'm on shaky ground when I talk about the syntax of Am Eng, but in US texts I frequently see this confusing - to me - mixture of subject pronouns.

b
 

Chicken Sandwich

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I believe that rule applies strictly to Br Eng (and Canadian, perhaps? ;-)).

Glenn Darragh agrees with you.

The pronoun one, used to talk about people in general, including the speaker and the listener, is much less used in the US than in GB. When it is used in American English, however, he, him and his are generally used later in a sentence to refer back to it, where British English would continue to use one or the pocessive one's.

US

One cannot propser unless he works.
One should always be kind to his mother.

GB

One cannot prosper unless one works.
One should always be kind to one's mother.

(A to Zed, a to Zee: A Guide to the Differences Between British and American English - Glenn Darragh)
 
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Barb_D

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Americans almost NEVER use "one."

You can't prosper unless you work. You should always be kind to your mother.
People cannot prosper unless they work hard. A person should be kind to their mother.

However, if "one" is used, it should be used throughout. It makes no sense to switch to "he."
 

keannu

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I'm terribly sorry to ask again despite many teachers' kind answers, but my question was focused not on "one" to "he/she" relationship, but about if "An American" refers to "a native" who made a rude answer or general Americans. Probus seems to have said it refers to general Americans, but my grammar book's example seems to define it as "the opposite of the native", which confuses me.

An American(opposite of the native?) would not use that word.
= If he/she(the native?)were an American, he/she wouldn't use that word.
:up: The hypothesis refers to the person, not to their Americanness.
 

probus

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Your passages deal with the variety of English usage, not with nativity or nationality.

"An American would not use that word" refers to all Americans, whether native-born or not. "If he were an American he wouldn't use that word" is a statement about what a particular American would do. Again, nothing is implied about that particular American except that he lives in America.

As a footnote. in the United States the phrase "native American" has been co-opted by politicians to mean someone descended from the original inhabitants of North America. Others who were born in the United States can therefore not describe themselves as native Americans without causing confusion.
 

5jj

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"An American would not use that word" refers to all Americans, whether native-born or not. "If he were an American he wouldn't use that word" is a statement about what a particular American would do. Again, nothing is implied about that particular American except that he lives in America.
I am not sure that I agree, 'If he were an American' simply means 'If 'he', a particular person were an American, i.e., any American.'

There is not difference between the meanings of 'an American' in either of the sentences, in my opinion.
 

Barb_D

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It was not the American who made the rude comment. The American was saying that he would have responded with an encouraging, kinder statement.
 

keannu

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It was a native like a Japanese or a Chinese,or whaetever in a country where the American student stayed. And the native speaker in the foreign country scoffed at his poor foreign language like Japanese. So the writer felt if an American had responded instead of the native Japanese, he would have said more politely.

So my question was if "An American would not use that word" can have the interpretation of "If he/she were an American, he/she would not use that word", and if it's proper.

ex)...An American student tells the story of how he was surprised when he was in a foreign country. He
said to a native, "I don't speak your language very well." The native replied, "I should say you don't." An American would not use that word. An American would have commented, "Well, you have only been here two months." or "But you are making progress."...
 

5jj

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Once again, keannu, you are trying to pin down an exact equivalence between two different expressions. This may or may not be possible - I don't know, and I don't really care. If my italicised words come across as dismissive, I think that you need to know that most native speakers do not analyse their utterances very deeply. We might say one thing on one occasion and another on another.
 

keannu

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Thanks a lot! Anyway, I had the same feeling as you, and I could understand it comparing it with the corresponding Korean expressions. It was an example of my grammar book and I had to explain about it responding to my students' questions. They asked me "what does "one" here mean? What does this sentence mean?" and I had no way to explain very well, feeling stupid.

Sometimes I don't really like such parts of English grammar books written in Korean, no rather I'm confused as I don't know if the examples are correct as they might have been created by Korean authors or native ones.

Sometimes I feel like teaching grammar materials written in only pure English, but students will have a hard time understanding them.
 
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