CHAPTER 10. FORM RELATIVITY GALORE

There has been much dispute over the Conditional or structures as Unreal Past. Labeling does not change the objective language reality. It cannot decide on how language forms work in human discourse. Let us see if we could apply our ■→MODAL TIME FRAME to guidance on the Unreal Past or the Conditional.

For a good picture on language form, we may begin along the classic lines and compare patterns as presented for the Conditional. We keep the target grammatical time in view, the PRESENT, PAST, or FUTURE.

As a syntactic device, the verb to have provides an auxiliary extent for Modal verbs. Let us look to the syntax and negotiation of meaning: do we eat a cookie and have it? Our syntactic HAVE is capitalized.

We look to the premise (if you eat the cookie) and the consequent (you do not have it). ■→PRACTICE 9.4. showed time as on a symbolic line.

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SYMBOLICS: LINEAR FLOW OF TIME

ZERO CONDITIONAL
TARGET GRAMMATICAL TIME: THE PRESENT

83. If you eat the cookie, you DO NOT have it.

PICTURE: LANGUAGE FORM, PRESENT -- TARGET TIME, PRESENT, NO RELATIVITY

LANGUAGE FORM: PRESENT
If you eat {PRESENT}, you DO {PRESENT} NOT have

FIRST CONDITIONAL
TARGET GRAMMATICAL TIME: THE FUTURE

84. If you eat the cookie, you WILL NOT have it.

PICTURE: RELATIVITY, LANGUAGE FORM, PRESENT -- TARGET TIME, FUTURE

LANGUAGE FORM: PRESENT
If you eat { PRESENT}, you WILL {PRESENT} NOT have

We began our journey viewing the verb form “WILL” in the Fields of Time.

PICTURE: THE VERB FORM ‘WILL’ IN THE FIELDS FOR THE PRESENT, PAST, AND FUTURE

We noted there is not really a FUTURE shape for the verb form WILL.
We do not say *will will. The verb form WILL maps on the FUTURE already in the PRESENT grammatical shape.

We can compare Modal uses of the verb form WILL
85. She WILL be reading now.
(I am sure she is reading now.)

SECOND CONDITIONAL
TARGET GRAMMATICAL TIME: THE PRESENT

86. If you ate the cookie, you WOULD NOT have it.

PICTURE: RELATIVITY, LANGUAGE FORM, PAST -- TARGET TIME, PRESENT

LANGUAGE FORM: PAST
If you ate {PAST}, you WOULD {PAST} NOT have

THIRD CONDITIONAL
TARGET GRAMMATICAL TIME: THE PAST

87. If you had eaten the cookie, you WOULD NOT have had it.

PICTURE: RELATIVITY, LANGUAGE FORM, ANTECEDENT PAST -- TARGET TIME, PAST

LANGUAGE FORM: ANTECEDENT PAST
If you had eaten {ANTECEDENT PAST},
you WOULD NOT have {ANTECEDENT PAST} had

FOURTH / MIXED CONDITIONAL
TARGET GRAMMATICAL TIME: THE PAST and PRESENT

88. If you had eaten the cookie, you WOULD NOT have it.

PICTURE: RELATIVITY, MIXED

LANGUAGE FORM: ANTECEDENT PAST and PAST
If you had eaten {ANTECEDENT PAST},
you WOULD {PAST} NOT have

Our syntactic HAVE is green. The head verb, notional HAVE is mauve. It may mean keeping, tolerating, or. . . eating something. We may compare Chantelle Règle having her extra Larousse, in ■→SUBCHAPTER 8.1.

Do we have to adopt the Conditional, for theory or guesswork? Let us compare ideas.

Some grammars will say we use the First Conditional when the probability for something is high, and we use the Second for things more probable than those in the Third.

Grammars that reject the Conditional may support structures they name the Unreal Past. Let us consider the probability in a saying as,

89. If I WERE you, I WOULD . . .
(Please find the comment on the use of WERE also in exercise 62.)

The PROBABILITY to become another human individual literally and ever really is ZERO, for everyone.

90. *I AM you . . . / *You ARE me . . . ?
(There is zero probability, even if someone pretends another person.)

Example 89 could be classed as the Second Conditional or Unreal Past, but it conveys zero probability, just as the Third Conditional happens to be defined.

Chantelle says the world’s worst advice comes with saying, “If I were you…” She skips it right before it even gets into her ear, she says, though she feels different about saying or hearing, “If I were in your shoes…”

“…I’d have fresh veg every day.”

Bob disagrees to have the Past for Unreal whatsoever, because he suspects there would be too much of an unreal thing about the Future as well. He is not thinking about the high Himalaya, he is too small, but his dad has promised a trip to Nepal. Unreal Past might inspire his civil disobedience, he warns.

91. If you HAD NOT taken care of it, this handle WOULD HAVE broken off.

Within the probability approach, example 91 is the 3rd Conditional, which tells about the least probable events. The example yet might be telling about a prevented thing. Let us think about probability a little further.

92. If you take care of this handle now, it still MIGHT work.
(The probability is low.)

SYMBOLICS: 1 CUBE

We get high probability, if we transform the example and say,

92a. If you take care of this handle now, it WILL work.
(The probability is very high.)

SYMBOLICS: 5 CUBES

Both 92 and 92a could receive the same label — of the First Conditional — and they differ in PROBABILITY very much. In 92, taking care of the handle is probable to result in its working. In 92a, the probability amounts to CERTAINTY. Taking care of the handle is sure to bring a working condition.

It is evident, that PROBABILITY is not going to explain on the use of forms. Let us try LINGUISTIC RELATIVITY.

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, American President

Let us sum up. For theory or guesswork, we can use
PRESENT verb forms to refer to the FUTURE,
PAST forms to refer to the PRESENT,
and
ANTECEDENT PAST forms to refer to the PAST.

Feel welcome to
■→10.1. THE CONDITIONAL OR UNREAL PAST: REAL TIME.