if a relative ... passed away, she <would condole/condoled>[Zero Conditional in Past Tense]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Lark-lover, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Lark-lover

    Lark-lover Senior Member

    Arabic
    hi, Wordreference members.

    I try to understand better the pattern of 0-conditional sentences and present and past tense. hence, is the following correct :

    She told me that if a relative of her passed away, she (would condole)condoled all her dead relative's family members.

    Any suggestions?

    My regards

     
  2. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    Both could be used here. But "would" is not the "would" that introduces a hypothetical resul. It's the "would" that introduces a habitual action in the past. And since the simple past can introduce habitual actions all on its own, you don't need to use the "would"-construction.

    So this isn't a real "contrary-to-reality" conditional structure, or conditional 2 as I think they call it in grammar books, it's simply the past tense transformation of the sentence "she tells me that if a relative of hers passes away, she consoles all the dead relative's family members."
     
  3. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    Hi Tazzler, you have mis-read the OP's question. Lark-lover uses 'condoles'.

    She told me that if a relative of her :cross: passed away, she (would condole :cross:) condoled :cross: all her dead relative's family members.

    She told me that if a relative of hers passed away, she would condole with all her dead relative's family members. :tick:


    Do you still have a question Lark-lover?
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  4. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    It might be a slip of the fingers. "condole"....I don't see this word often, if at all. We already have "grieve" and "mourn." Actually if you use "would" it could be a regular conditional sentence, which I so shamefully failed to realize. Only context will tell which interpretation is correct.
     
  5. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    As you imply, only the OP can answer the first part although I think it is commoner to send condolences (at least in BrE) to all the relatives rather that to console them all individually. Probably only the very closest relatives need consolation.

    More on topic, I can't see an alternative to 'She told me that if <A happened>, she would <take action B>.' Is there another type of conditional that could be used?
     
  6. Lark-lover

    Lark-lover Senior Member

    Arabic
    Tazzler, I consider you have answered my question. Thanks a lot and take it easy.:)
    Biffo, thanks a lot ..What I've drawn from your answer is that such a zero conditional sentence was in the past tense or in reported speech, it would be considered as if it were a habit occured in the past, right?
    To sum up: Zero conditional sentence in undirect speech becomes a past activity ?
     
  7. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    Hi Lark-lover. What you are saying doesn't seem correct to me. Maybe I am simply misunderstanding the question.

    1. Firstly, do you mean console or condole? They are different verbs with different usages.

    2. Sending condolences or providing consolation are not habits in this case. 'She said that if <X> then <Y>' does not describe a habit. It describes a hypothetical situation and an intention.

    3. "She said" is , of course, past activity but "would condole/console" is a prediction for a hypothetical future.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2012
  8. Tazzler Senior Member

    Maryland
    American English
    She said that if X happened then she did Y. This means that (as she informed) whenever X happenef she did Y. It is a fulfilled condition in the past.
    She said that if X happened then she would do Y. This can be an irrealis (contrary-to-fact) conditional or a fulfilled condition in the past as above. This is due to the dual nature of "would." It can indicate habitual actions in the past and hypothetical actions under hypothetical conditions.
    Maybe some real words will make it easiet to understand.
    She said that if her mother got sick she would take good care of her. This is smbigious: it can mean that whenever in the past her mother got sick, she used to take care of her.(She did take care of her, this happened. Or it could mean that under the hypothetical condition that her mother got sick, then she would take care of her (but at the time of her speaking her mother was healthy).
    Maybe it's harder to see in your example because death is such an infrequent thing, but the possibility for two interpretations is there. You can avoid the ambiguity if you do not use "would" to refer to a habitual action, as the simple past can already perform that function.
     

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