If they shouldn't

Discussion in 'English Only' started by screenactorsguild, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. screenactorsguild Senior Member

    Vietnam
    Vietnamese
    Here is a sentence from my homework at school:
    "Why haven't they turned up yet? ................(If they don't come, If they won't come, If they shouldn't come, If they had not come ) on time, we would have put it off."
    I chose "If they won't come" but my teacher insisted on "If they shouldn't come", why?
     
  2. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Both wrong, I am afraid. Correct is:

    'If they had not come on time, we would have put it off'.

    The tense and mood of 'would have' identify it as an unreal past conditional (third conditional).
     
  3. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I agree that both are incorrect. However, I don't see how

    Why haven't they turned up yet? If they had not come on time, we would have put it off.


    could be correct either.

    Google shows one ESL site* in which screenactorguild's exercise can be found, except that the exercise is phrased slightly different, which makes, I believe, choice C (here, without contraction) acceptable:

    Why haven't they turned up yet? ... on time, we would have to put it off.

    A) If they don't come
    B) If they won't come
    C) If they should not come
    D) If they had not come

    * http://media.anhvan4u.com/data/maba...ngu-phap/100-cau-trac-nghiem-ngu-phap-11.html
     
  4. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Agree with Estjarn, the only reasonable options being:

    1. "Why haven't they turned up yet? If they don't come on time, we will have to put it off."
    2. "Why haven't they turned up yet? If they shouldn't come on time, we would have to put it off."

    GS
     
  5. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    I don't think we start conditional sentences with If they shouldn't. None of the alternatives fit with "Why haven't they turned up yet?"
    Sentence 1 in Giorgio's post is possible. You could also start it with Should they not come on time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  6. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Estjarn's got it! (Post #3.) That "to", omitted by the OP, makes all the difference, and C is the right answer. But this is of course BE, not idiomatic AE.
     
  7. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    In my post 2, I failed to take account of the first part of the question!
    All the same, 'would have to' is clearly different from 'would have' without 'to'.

    However, now I wonder if there is any real difference between 'If they should not come on time' and 'If they do not come on time'.

    The correct real present conditional is (a): 'If they do not come on time, we shall have to put it off'.
    The correct unreal equivalent of this is (b): 'If they did not come on time, we should have to put it off'.

    The sense of 'If they should not come on time' seems to me closer to (a) than to (b).
    I do not on reflection consider it a good example, as it fails to distinguish these two cases clearly.
     
  8. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian

    Hullo, e2.

    So my #2 option is incorrect?

    Thank you.

    GS
     
  9. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Shouldn't to me means ought not to.

    In COCA there are 6 examples of "if they shouldn't", none of which mean "if they don't" or "if they should not by any chance". Also four of them are of the type "wonder if".
     
  10. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Hullo.

    I thought should/shouldn't could be emplyed in three main cases:

    1. deontic modality: "Im afraid I shoudn't tell him" (... it'd be a good thing if I didn't tell him)
    2. epistemic modality: "If he should call, please tell him I'm out" (... if he were to call, ...)
    3. "putative" should: "I strongly recommend that he should contact Mr Parish" (... that he contact...)

    Am I wrong?

    GS
    PS And what about sentences of the kind: "What if they shoudn't turn up?"
     
  11. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Your three sentences above are not relevant to the meaning of shouldn't in the sense of should not (by any chance) in a conditional sentence starting with if.
    Google "if they shouldn't" and you will get 18 examples. It's not clear to me that any of them can mean "If they don't".I don't think the contracted form in this sense is used much in modern English.

    What if they shouldn't turn up? is not a pure conditional sentence. It asks about the possibility that they might not turn up. I would use What if they don't turn up?

     

Share This Page