A bomb would have exploded at noon today

ALEX1981X

Banned
Italian
Hi all

A bomb would have exploded at noon today and no survivors would have been found

In Italian we use the past conditional (would have+past participle) to refer/report a news/crime/event that hasn't been tested yet and of which we're still not sure of its existence or even if it's true we still don't know which are the consequences of it.
In Italian the above is correct and idiomatic and it is commonly used when it comes to express Crime reporting, in newspapers or even from other sources including in common everyday speech.
I don't think the above sentence is possible in English though but please let me know if I'm wrong regarding the usage of "would have" in this way and in those contexts.

What I've noticed is that in English I usually hear or say: a bomb is reported/said to have exploded at noon..../it appears that a bomb has exploded at noon...According to X's testimony a bomb has exploded at noon...

What's your point of view natives?

Thanks everybody as ever
 
  • waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    You would not say "A bomb would have exploded at noon today" if it reportedly or actually exploded.

    You might say something like "A bomb would have exploded at noon today, but a police bomb squad found it and disarmed it before it could detonate".
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    A bomb may have exploded at noon today.
    I can't imagine adding a second part that is a consequence of the first part. It would seem allow the possibility of survivors (or no survivors) of the non-explosion (there was no explosion yet everyone was killed). ;)
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    A bomb may have exploded at noon today... there was no explosion yet everyone was killed.
    My wife tells me that this is a pedantic tic of mine, but I find this version quite impossible. If I hear "may have" I take it that the issue is open - we don't yet know the result. So the sentence cannot possibly conclude that "there was no explosion". It's like saying that Napoleon may :cross: have won the battle of Waterloo. He might have won, if things had been different, but they weren't and he didn't.

    But to come back to the specific question in the OP. I guess that this is a direct translation of the Italian which, as in French, uses a conditional in a way that we don't use it in English. The correct English for this is, as Alex1981x suggests:

    A bomb is reported/said to have exploded at noon...

    The conditional means something quite different - the consequences of a possibility, not the truth of a report.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    A bomb would have exploded at noon today and no survivors would have been found

    In Italian we use the past conditional (would have+past participle) to refer/report a news/crime/event that hasn't been tested yet and of which we're still not sure of its existence or even if it's true we still don't know which are the consequences of it.
    In Italian the above is correct and idiomatic and it is commonly used when it comes to express Crime reporting, in newspapers or even from other sources including in common everyday speech.

    What I've noticed is that in English I usually hear or say: a bomb is reported/said to have exploded at noon..../it appears that a bomb has exploded at noon...According to X's testimony a bomb has exploded at noon...
    I'm learning Italian at the moment :), and this is one of the differences I've come across: the use of the conditional perfect tense in a way which isn't idiomatic in English. The way we do it in English is to use something like "reported to have....", to denote that we're not (yet) sure of the factual accuracy of the statement.

    The other expression favoured by crime reporters (although it doesn't really fit this particular context) is "alleged to have..." or simply "has allegedly...". ;)
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    In my humble opinion the sentence, as proposed in post 1, is grammatical. However, I agree with the objections raised against it - it is not logical to hypothesise about what might or might not have happened as a consequence of a non-expolsion. :) But those are objections based on common sense, not language or grammar - what I mean is that the sentence would be logically flawed in my language as well and, I presume, in all languages...

    P.S. On reflection, it is not even so illogical to project the effect of a non-explosion - an a-bomb detonating in a cellar would surely see to it that no survivors were found among those having the misfortune to be in the building or the cellar itself.
     
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    Istarion

    Senior Member
    British English
    French does this, too, using the conditional for things that allegedly happened. The best alternative I can think of in English is "A bomb is thought to have exploded..."
    -I
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In my humble opinion the sentence, as proposed in post 1, is grammatical. ...

    Nice try, Boozer, but it doesn't stand up unless there's a continuation, such as:

    A bomb would have exploded at noon today and no survivors would have been found if the army had not managed to defuse it.

    That's what the conditional does in English -- it prepares you for (or follows on from) a condition. The if-clause is essential.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I did mention that a condition was implied. Oh, I did not, but was thinking of doing so. :) It is an implied third conditional and does not work in a situation where the bomb allegedly, or supposedly went off. It only works if the bomb was somehow defused.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    French does this, too, using the conditional for things that allegedly happened.
    Yes, and German uses the verb 'sollen' for the same purpose, meaning that something is said to have happened.
    We have a close parallel to the German 'sollen' in the expression 'be supposed to'. For example:
    'A bomb is supposed to have gone off at noon today, leaving no survivors'.

    In English, the use of 'is supposed to' in this way is limited for two reasons: (1) it is often felt to express an element of doubt as to whether the event occurred, whereas the Italian, French and German usages do not convey doubt, but merely the fact that the event is reported; (2) it is not so easy in Engish to continue the usage in an additional clause or clauses, because it then begins to seem clumsy:
    'A bomb is supposed to have gone off at noon today, and there are supposed to have been no survivors'.

    Hence in English we generally prefer to use 'is said to' or 'is reported to' and then in following clauses try to vary the construction (in ways that retain the sense of reported speech).
     
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