Are unless statements conditional?

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arjun78

Senior Member
Hi,

Are statements with unless conditional? If so, how to use them in past tense:

Unless he did this, he could never solve the problem.
Unless he convinced X, he might suffer.

What I mean is: since unless in the first clause expresses a condition, must the second clause always express a possibility about the future and about the future only? If so, should it always be could/might (as in my examples) instead of could have/might have in order to express the future condition?

Does that make sense?

Arjun

• owlman5

Senior Member
Hi, Arjun78. I often use "unless" in the following ways: "Unless somebody gets here quick, we're going to be in trouble." This is a way of making a conditional statement about an immediate, possible future.

"Unless he convinced them of his innocence, they were going to shoot him." This is a way of making a conditional statement in the past about something that was going to happen unless he was able to convince them.

I hope these examples and explanations make sense to you.

arjun78

Senior Member
Hi, Arjun78. I often use "unless" in the following ways: "Unless somebody gets here quick, we're going to be in trouble." This is a way of making a conditional statement about an immediate, possible future.

"Unless he convinced them of his innocence, they were going to shoot him." This is a way of making a conditional statement in the past about something that was going to happen unless he was able to convince them.

I hope these examples and explanations make sense to you.
Hi Owlman, thanks for the detailed explanation. I take it we can also use it negatively such as: unless x verified it, y was not going to trust him. Unless he convinced them, he was going to jail.

Bottom line, 'was going to' (or 'was not going to') points to a future scenario even though the sentence is in the past tense. Is my reasoning correct?

Thanks again,
Arjun

owlman5

Senior Member
Your reasoning seems good to me. I think you should trust your understanding of the topic.

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