an assistant...who spoke/should speak four foreign languages

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gvergara

Senior Member
Español
Hi,

I was wondering if the past tense can be used to translate the sentence into English. As far as I know, the Past Simple is used when expressing COMPLETED past acions, which is not the case here, as we do not know the assistant. Can you mention grammatical strategies to help me out? (for example I was looking for an assitant, male or female, who should speak four foreign languages.

T Thanks in advance,

Gonzalo
 
Last edited:
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    "Spoke" sounds normal here: I was looking for an assistant, male or female, who spoke four foreign languages. You could also use "could" to make the same remark: I was looking for an assistant who could speak four foreign languages fluently.
     

    gvergara

    Senior Member
    Español
    "Spoke" sounds normal here: I was looking for an assistant, male or female, who spoke four foreign languages. You could also use "could" to make the same remark: I was looking for an assistant who could speak four foreign languages fluently.
    Thanks, owlman5. You're right, it's not hard to fit could in this sentence, as we're talking about an ability, but what about the case of another "imaginary" noun, a noun the existence of which is not certain... Would only the Past Simple work in this sentence? He wanted to write a book that showed/should show/would show the reality of the Muslims in our society.

    What does 'theology' mean at the very end of the sentence?
    Nothing. Just a mistake, I apologize.

    Thanks again,

    G.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    You're welcome. "Would show" and "showed" seem likely to me in your last example, gvergara. "Would show" may imply that he was a little less certain about his ability to write such a book.

    Perhaps "should show" would sound normal in British English, but we Americans don't often use "should" rather than "would" in a sentence like this.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thanks, boozer, my good man. You speak something that is a lot closer to British English than anything I can do. Maybe "should" sounds weird on both sides of the Atlantic.
     
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