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FR: s'il fait/faisait beau demain

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by tosamja, May 12, 2013.

  1. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    Quelle est la différence entre

    S'il fait beau demain, nous ferons une promenade.

    et

    S'il faisait beau demain, nous ferions une promenade. ?

    Le sens me semble presque le même, sauf que peut être la seconde phrase est plus incertaine quant à la possibilité d'un beau temps demain, non ? En particulier, je ne trouve aucune façon de distinguer entre ses deux phrases en anglais. La seule traduction que je vois est If the weather is nice tomorrow, we will have a walk.
    Or would it make any sense to say If the weather was/were nice tomorrow, we would have a walk ?

    […]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  2. frog1gsu Senior Member

    Oxford UK
    British English
    As far as I know, you cannot say : "S'il faisait beau demain"...

    "S'il faisait beau, je serais content". Je pense que cette phrase est correcte.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  3. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    In fact, you can. The sentences in my previous post are taken from an eminent French grammar book.

    Yes, it's correct, but that's not part of my question. I'm interested in the situation when the si part refers to the future.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  4. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    No, you cannot say s'il faisait beau demain because you don't know for sure whether or not the weather will be nice tomorrow. Similarly to the English construction, we use the imparfait for counterfactual clauses, which doesn't fit here since the weather can possibly be nice tomorrow. If you could foretell the weather with perfect accuracy and you knew tomorrow's weather would be bad, then the counterfactual imperfect would make sense.

    S'il fait beau demain, nous ferons une promenade. = If the weather is nice tomorrow, we will take a walk. (possible hypothesis—the weather may be nice tomorrow)
    Si je devenais roi demain, je mettrais le président actuel en prison. = If I became / were to become king tomorrow, I would put the current president in jail. (counterfactual hypothesis—you know you won't be king tomorrow)
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  5. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    Well, it is used as an example in Cours de langue et de civilisation françaises, Tome II by G. Mauger, page 191, and it's quite clear from the context that it's not a misprint. He goes on explaining that the use of the imperfect renders the condition "moins réalisable".
     
  6. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Then I must disagree with what your book claims. The imparfait makes the condition virtually impossible or at least very unlikely, not just less foreseeable.
     
  7. frog1gsu Senior Member

    Oxford UK
    British English
    In a philosophical sense perhaps we can say "S'il faisait beau demain" - it is grammatically sound, in other words, but not semantically. It is a contradiction in terms, but not a grammatical fault. This is related to philosophy and conceptual realisation vs. factual untruths. Your phrase is a bit like saying "I can square the circle" or "I saw a circle and it was a square" - no grammatical fault but just impossible because of what we are talking about - because of the objects being referred to. It is impossible, but not a fault of grammar, as it turns out. To see this, consider "S'il fût/faisait beau demain, je serais fou/un narr etc." It is as if it offends against the rules of logic but not against syntactical rules - otherwise known as grammatical rules.
    Thanks for this insight - it has helped me a lot with a philosophical problem I have been grappling with for years. From small beginnings come great things - there must be some such proverb in French if not in English.
     
  8. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    The fact that one can indeed say "s'il faisait beau demain" is rather well supported by Google search that gives a lot of serious references. In particular, I have found this scientific article that uses it as an example on page 2: http://hal.inria.fr/docs/00/66/85/52/PDF/AT_linx_7._HYP.pdf Their explanations are however quite unclear to me.
     
  9. frog1gsu Senior Member

    Oxford UK
    British English
    You can say it - just as you can say "The square is round". It is not a grammatical error, but a factual one - or semantic one. Actually, I believe that this is expressed in some way by Maitre Capello's "If you could foretell the weather with perfect accuracy and you knew tomorrow's weather would be bad, then the counterfactual imperfect would make sense."

    It may be wrong, but not by reason of its grammar, but by reason of what it is saying - i.e. its meanin
    g.

    The problem is to do with time, and just as you can't easily give sense to the phrase "a square circle", so is it difficult to give sense to the phrase mentioned: "S'il faisait beau demain.." Consider Einstein's theory of relativity - if you could travel back into the past, or experience the future before it happens, then would it be possible to say "S'il faisait beau demain,.."?
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  10. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    After all, you're talking about the weather as something totally unpredictable. Modern meteorology does a pretty good job in this respect, and it's neither a miracle nor a rare thing that they are (in many situations) capable of predicting with an absolute certainty that in a particular region the weather will be bad on a particular day (especially the next day). Well, no prediction about the future is absolute, including the possibility that the subject of one of Maitre Capello's sentences becomes a king. The future is always uncertain, but it doesn't prevent a speaker to assume certain beliefs related to it, and to base her statements accordingly.
     
  11. frog1gsu Senior Member

    Oxford UK
    British English
    You guys are way ahead of me and this is going to require some study.. However I feel myself that it is not to do with uncertainty or otherwise but with the past tense being coupled with an adverb (?) describing the future. Take <Je ferai mes devoirs hier> - this is 'wrong' for the same reason - but not ungrammatical. If it is, then why is <Je ferai mes devoirs demain> allowed - given that <hier> - be it an adverb or whatever - is surely the same piece of grammar as <demain>? It is your experience or your knowledge of how time passes that leads you to dismiss this sentence as wrong - and not your sense of grammar which does so.

    <La fille était un homme> - grammatically correct, but a contradiction; <la fille était brun> grammatically incorrect but not devoid of meaning or contradicting your 'logic'. The former sentence is rejected because of experience or experiential knowledge, and not because of a grammar error. Would a computer rule out the first sentence?

    When you say that "S'il faisait beau demain,..." is or could be correct, you are trying to attach a meaning to it (semantics); but here the question is one of grammar (or syntax). The computer - as far as I know - only deals with the latter, and cannot understand the former - otherwise it could reject opinions etc.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  12. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    You should know by now that Google searches are irrelevant when it comes to correct grammar… :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I agree that s'il faisait beau demain is possible, but only if (1) bad weather is expected for tomorrow, and (2) you are fully convinced that the weather forecast is accurate and trustworthy. In other words, it implies that you are convinced that tomorrow's weather will be bad beyond the shadow of a doubt and therefore that you won't be able to take a walk that day.

    On the other hand, when saying s'il fait beau demain, you're just stating a mere hypothesis. You may indeed have no idea about tomorrow's weather.

    S'il fait beau demain, nous ferons une promenade. = If the weather is nice tomorrow, we will take a walk.
    S'il faisait beau demain, nous ferions une promenade. = If the weather were nice tomorrow, we would take a walk.
     
  13. tosamja Senior Member

    Serbian - Bosnia
    Google search is certainly not irrelevant when taken with a pinch of salt. And as you can see, I insisted on "serious references", and not on the number of hits. For example, Google offered the following articles and books pointing exactly to the place where the construction "S'il faisait beau demain" is found (usually followed by an explanation):

    http://books.google.ch/books?id=PAd...=onepage&q="S'il faisait beau demain"&f=false

    http://books.google.ch/books?id=HSM...=onepage&q="S'il faisait beau demain"&f=false

    http://books.google.ch/books?id=HqX...=onepage&q="S'il faisait beau demain"&f=false

    https://charente-maritime.fr/colleges17/jc-tonnay/evaweb/IMG/html/systhypo.html

    http://hal.inria.fr/docs/00/66/85/52/PDF/AT_linx_7._HYP.pdf

    http://www.guibord.com/french/articles-en-ligne/points_de_langue/index.html

    http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/igram_0222-9838_2002_num_95_1_2652

    Anyway, thanks for your help, I believe I got the point now, although I don't think I'll use this construction very often.
     

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