Conditional (2): Would in if clause. If you would send me the confirmation order, I'd be very grateful.

riglos

Senior Member
Argentina - Spanish
Hi all! I've always been taught to avoid, and repeatedly warned against, the inclusion of "would" in the conditional clause, that is, the "if" clause. It so happens that in one of the coursebooks I teach with, "If you would..." is cited as a formula to start polite questions or requests. So, the following example is given: "If you would send me the confirmation order, I'd be very grateful."

I imagine this kind of construction might be frowned upon by purists and prescriptivist grammarians, but might very possibly be heard among ordinary people in everyday speech. I also guess that the "would" here is included for effect, but I wonder, of which sort? Here I'd venture my third guess, which is "it is included there for politeness reasons". If the answers to all my assumptions are "yes", is this construction possible in all kinds of conditional sentences (i.e., 1st, 2nd, 3rd and mixed types)?

Is there any other reason why we include "would" in the conditional clause? Or any other case? Could you provide some examples?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.-
 
  • timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Hi Riglos

    Well, first off I would say that phrases such as "if I would have money I would buy a car" or "if you would have told me I wouldn't have done it" are heard, but not as commonly as all that, and certainly sound strange to my ear.

    Now, your specific example of "if you would send me the confirmation I would be grateful" seems more acceptable than my examples above, and I think the reason is that this first "would" in the sentence here is not the same as the first "would" in my above sentences. "If you would send" here means, I think, "if you were willing to send" rather than being the conditional of "to send", and so is acceptable.
     

    clapec

    Senior Member
    Italian
    We can use if … will in polite requests. In this case, will is not a future auxiliary, it means "are willing to".

    e.g. If you will come this way, I’ll take you to the manager’s office.

    Would can be used to make a request even more polite.

    e.g. If you would …., I’ll take you …

    ;)
     

    bartonig

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can use would in this way but you would sound somewhat affected if you did so regularly. Use it sparingly.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    "If you would be good enough to do XYZ, I would be very grateful." would be commonly heard (and encountered in letters and print) in Ireland.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I find these rather convoluted constructions confusing. It's a bit like the contortions writers get into when they start a sentence with, "I would appreciate ..." and are terrified of gerunds (or wouldn't know one if it bit them).

    "If you would send me the confirmation order, I'd be very grateful."
    - or -
    Please send me the confirmation order.

    I can understand that it is important for your students to understand the convoluted version, because it is used so much. But I would really have liked your coursebook to teach the Plain English version and to mention the alternatives only if necessary.

    And finally, I've used your wording, but I don't know what a confirmation order is. Order, yes. Order confirmation, yes. Confirmation order?
     

    riglos

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    OK!! Thanks to you all! Now, it seems that sentences which include "will" or "would" in the condictional clause, do so just for the sake of politeness. In any other context, (e.g. as you said, "if I would have money I would buy a car") this doesn't seem to be acceptable and is considered wrong.

    What I'd like to know is if this inclusion of "will" or "would" in a sentence (and for the sake of politeness) is also governed by any rules or not. I mean, are there any restrictions as to how to form the sentences? Is the structure always the same? (i.e., does it follow a pattern?) Let me give you an example:

    "If you'll wait here, doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    "If you'd fax me those figures, I'd appreciate it."

    These are kind of parallel constructions, and the rule would run along the lines:
    "When we include the politennes marker "will" in the conditional clause, we use "will "in the result clause."
    "When we include the politennes marker "would" in the conditional clause, we use "would" in the result clause."

    Or, summarized:
    "If + will (If- clause), will (result clause)"
    "If + would (If- clause), would (result clause)"

    Now, what I'd like to know is if it's possible to have (or hear) a sentence like:

    "If you would wait here, doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    "If you would fax me those figures, I will be very grateful."

    or

    "If you will wait here, doctor Roberts would see you in a minute."
    "If you will fax me those figures, I would be very grateful."

    where I would be mixing the two types.

    I'm not sure whether I've made myself terribly clear or was successful in getting my ideas acroos, but I'd be happy to supply more context or explanations of what I mean if needed.

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
     

    riglos

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    panjandrum said:
    I can understand that it is important for your students to understand the convoluted version, because it is used so much. But I would really have liked your coursebook to teach the Plain English version and to mention the alternatives only if necessary.
    May I ask what the "Plain English version" would be?

    panjandrum said:
    And finally, I've used your wording, but I don't know what a confirmation order is. Order, yes. Order confirmation, yes. Confirmation order?
    Sorry, my mistake: either "order confirmation" or "confirmation of the order".
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    A confirmation order is a purchase order issued for materials that have been verbally requested from the vendor.

    Plain English is language that is easy to read, understand, and use.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Sorry riglos, there is a Plain English campaign in the UK.

    Plain English Campaign is an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English. We have more than 10,000 registered supporters in 80 countries.
    'Public information' means anything people have to read to get by in their daily lives.
    'Plain English' is language that the intended audience can understand and act upon from a single reading.
    Its website will explain what it is all about.

    How to write in Plain English.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    riglos said:
    OK!! Thanks to you all! Now, it seems that sentences which include "will" or "would" in the condictional clause, do so just for the sake of poloiteness. In any other context, (e.g. as you said, "if I would have money I would buy a car") this doesn't seem to be acceptable and is considered wrong.

    What I'd like to know is if this inclusion of "will" or "would" in a sentence (and for the sake of politeness) is also governed by any rules or not. I mean, are there any restrictions as how to form the sentences? Is the structure always the same? (i.e., does it follow a pattern?) Let me give you an example:

    "If you'll wait here, doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    "If you'd fax me those figures, I'd appreciate it."

    These are kind of parallel constructions, and the rule would run along the lines:
    "When we include the politennes marker "will" in the conditional clause, we use "will "in the result clause."
    "When we include the politennes marker "would" in the conditional clause, we use "would" in the result clause."

    Or, summarized:
    "If + will (If- clause), will (result clause)"
    "If + would (If- clause), would (result clause)"

    Now, what I'd like to know id if i'ts possible to have (or hear) a sentence like:

    "If you would wait here, doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    "If you would fax me those figures, I will be very grateful."

    or

    "If you will wait here, doctor Roberts would see you in a minute."
    "If you will fax me those figures, I would be very grateful."

    where I would be mixing the two types.

    I'm not sure whether I've made myself terribly clear or was successful in getting my ideas acroos, but I'd be happy to supply more context or explanations of what I mean if needed.

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
    I have no problems with your sentences where "will" effectively means "wants" and "would" effectively means "were willing". But I do think you need to follow "will" with "will" and "would" with "would", for the sense at least. In particular, following "would" with "will" sounds odd, eg "if you would fax me the figures I will be grateful" because you are following an uncertain condition with a certain outcome. However, I think in speech you might hear any of the sentences you have formulated.
     

    riglos

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    No, no Panj! I get the concept of "Plain English". I was just asking what your proposed Plain English version of the phrase you cited would be.

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    riglos said:
    No, no Panj! I get the concept of "Plain English". I was just asking what your proposed Plain English version of the phrase you cited would be.

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
    Oops:)

    Sorry Mara:eek:

    I meant to say that my version:
    Please send me the confirmation order.
    was probably a Plain English version of the original:
    "If you would send me the confirmation order, I'd be very grateful."

    I got a bit over-excited in my enthusiasm for Plain English.
     

    riglos

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Hehe!! It happens... Thanks a million, Panj! And would you like to comment on one of my other posts above? There I posed some more questions and I would love to read your comments!!

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I'll probably not be answering the questions you ask, but here are some comments on the sentences you gave as examples. These comments are made without reference to rules.

    1. "If you'll wait here, Doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    2. Wait here, ...
    3. Please wait here, ...
    4. If you wait here, ...

    All of these are fine. They would be spoken, of course.
    The degree of politeness will depend much, much more on how it is said.
    The apparently brusque (2), said with a smile and with sympathy, will make me feel better.
    The apparently polite (3) will sound rude if said without care.

    1. "If you'd fax me those figures, I'd appreciate it."
    As indicated above, I try to avoid this construction.
    2. I would appreciate your faxing me those figures.
    3. I would be grateful if you could fax me those figures.
    4. Please fax me those figures as soon as convenient.

    These are kind of parallel constructions, and the rule would run along the lines:
    "When we include the politennes marker "will" in the conditional clause, we use "will "in the result clause."
    "When we include the politennes marker "would" in the conditional clause, we use "would" in the result clause."

    Or, summarized:
    "If + will (If- clause), will (result clause)"
    "If + would (If- clause), would (result clause)"
    Sorry, can't comment on this.

    "If you would wait here, doctor Roberts will see you in a minute."
    "If you would fax me those figures, I will be very grateful."

    I want to remove would from the first half of these sentences.

    "If you will wait here, doctor Roberts would see you in a minute."
    "If you will fax me those figures, I would be very grateful."


    I don't want to say these at all, but I could flirt with the subjunctive versions:
    "If you were to wait here, Doctor Roberts would see you in a minute."
    "If you were to fax me those figures, I would be very grateful."
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    Would is a used-to-be form of will (meaning wish or desire): "The leader is no longer with us, would that he were". This "double-would" in question may be a relic of that type of construction.

    Even harder on my ear, though, is the "double-woulda": If I woulda known you were coming I woulda baked a cake.:eek:
     

    riglos

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Hi Tabac! And thanks! What do you mean by "a used-to-be form of "will"? That it was used in the past?

    Thanks!

    Mara.-
     

    ablazza

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    timpeac said:
    Hi Riglos

    Well, first off I would say that phrases such as "if I would have money I would buy a car" or "if you would have told me I wouldn't have done it" are heard, but not as commonly as all that, and certainly sound strange to my ear.

    Now, your specific example of "if you would send me the confirmation I would be grateful" seems more acceptable than my examples above, and I think the reason is that this first "would" in the sentence here is not the same as the first "would" in my above sentences. "If you would send" here means, I think, "if you were willing to send" rather than being the conditional of "to send", and so is acceptable.
    'if I would have money ...'??? 'if you would have told me ....'??? Sorry, but this ain't English. In these cases one would use the imperfect tense + conditional clause, eg. 'If I had money I would buy ...', 'if you had told me I wouldn't have done it'. Also, 'if I were rich I would ...' 'if he were king he would be a complete prat ...'.

    The next, 'if you would send me the confirmation I would be grateful' is fine, the 'would' is mainly used for politeness or delicacy reasons, and is optional, as one could equally say 'if you send me the confirmation I will be grateful', but if it were in the past tense it would be, 'if you had sent me the confirmation I would have been grateful'.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ablazza said:
    'if I would have money ...'??? 'if you would have told me ....'??? Sorry, but this ain't English. In these cases one would use the imperfect tense + conditional clause, eg. 'If I had money I would buy ...', 'if you had told me I wouldn't have done it'. Also, 'if I were rich I would ...' 'if he were king he would be a complete prat ...'.
    It may not be your English but I have heard this usage many times. You shouldn't be so absolute in your declarations.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi Ablazza. We try not to use slang like ain't on the Forum, unless we explain it is slang or we are actually discussing slang, as it could confuse non-native speakers.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ablazza said:
    Sorry, but it just sounds plain wrong to me !!!
    It's fine to say that, but it doesn't seem very helpful to say that something isn't English when other native speakers have already said they have heard it. If you look back at my post number 2 you will see that I actually agree with you and say "certainly sound strange to my ears". No one has said that it belongs to what is perceived as standard English.
     

    ablazza

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Other native speakers haven't said that they have heard it. The first writer, Riglos, was discussing 'if you would + verb, which is fine, and which, as he says, is used for politeness. It was you who introduced 'if I would have money I would ...' 'if you would have told me I wouldn't have done it'. Actually the last one sounds OK in the context of that person having refused to have told him. But 'if I would have money ...' ?? I can't think of any context in which that would be correct, which is, of course, not to say that there isn't one. Could be a bit confusing for non-native speakers ... if one would not wish to confuse one wouldn't say ain't ...
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ablazza said:
    Other native speakers haven't said that they have heard it.
    I am a native speaker of English, and I didn't introduce anything. Both my examples were "if you would + verb" and riglos specifically stated she was talking about being warned against conditional sentences, so I was just saying that they could be heard. The basic structure of "if you would have told me", which you now find believable, is essentially the same as "if you would have money" but one step back.

    If you scan down this list you will see lots of examples of "if i would xxx, I would yyy" http://www.google.co.uk/search?num=100&hl=en&as_qdr=all&q=+%22if+i+would+have+money%22&meta . Most are from .com websites and I see no reason to believe they are all by foreign speakers.

    At the end of the day I find it a bit presumptuous of you to state what is and is not English, unless of course you have personally met all speakers which I somewhat doubt:rolleyes:
     

    ablazza

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Of course conditional sentences are heard. No-one said they weren't. I was referring to the specific construction that you introduced. 'If you would have money' is not 'essentially the same' as 'if you would have told me'. For a start, the 'have' in the first clause means to possess, whereas the 'have' in the second clause is part of the past tense of the verb.

    I haven't scanned your list, but I'm sure you are right - that all the examples are not from foreign speakers .... ?? (Bit random ?)

    I'm not stating what is and is not English, just what is right and wrong English.

    I don't remember implying I had met all speakers.

    The example quoted by Maxiogee is correct, so no problem.

    Presumptious, moi ?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ablazza said:
    Of course conditional sentences are heard. No-one said they weren't. I was referring to the specific construction that you introduced. 'If you would have money' is not 'essentially the same' as 'if you would have told me'. For a start, the 'have' in the first clause means to possess, whereas the 'have' in the second clause is part of the past tense of the verb.

    I haven't scanned your list, but I'm sure you are right - that all the examples are not from foreign speakers .... ?? (Bit random ?)

    I'm not stating what is and is not English, just what is right and wrong English.

    I don't remember implying I had met all speakers.

    The example quoted by Maxiogee is correct, so no problem.

    Presumptious, moi ?
    I meant that conditional sentences with a "would" in the first part of the sentence, the condition part, are heard (all along agreeing that I don't find such a usage standard myself).

    "If I would have money" = "if I would possess money" is the conditional tense. "If I would have told" is the conditional perfect. Using the would here in this first part of the conditional sentence, followed by another would in the second part, is essentially the same phenomenon.

    If you say something "isn't English" then it certainly suggests that you are speaking for everyone and saying that such a usage isn't found in English...

    But now I see you've clarified that you only meant that you were stating what should be right or wrong English for everyone. Presumptuous, toi ?
     

    ablazza

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    Just because people say something doesn't make it correct ... le bon usage ...? 'If I would have money' what does that mean ? It means, if I had (imperfect, was having) money, and that is what people say. Or, if they were ultra correct they might say 'if I were to have money'. If they say 'if I would have money' to mean that, then they must be living in another century, or they just don't know how English is spoken. It's as simple as that.
    A possible, but highly unlikely, context for 'if I would have money' would be to mean 'if I wanted money', as in 'The Man Who Would Be King', and I think we both know that that isn't what we're talking about here. N'est-ce pas?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    ablazza said:
    Just because people say something doesn't make it correct ... le bon usage ...? 'If I would have money' what does that mean ? It means, if I had (imperfect, was having) money, and that is what people say. Or, if they were ultra correct they might say 'if I were to have money'. If they say 'if I would have money' to mean that, then they must be living in another century, or they just don't know how English is spoken. It's as simple as that.
    A possible, but highly unlikely, context for 'if I would have money' would be to mean 'if I wanted money', as in 'The Man Who Would Be King', and I think we both know that that isn't what we're talking about here. N'est-ce pas?
    Ablazza - I do understand what you mean and where you're coming from. I just find it a bit high-handed to describe a usage made by native speakers as "not English". As I say above, by all means signal the fact that such or such a usage is not standard - after all many of the people reading the thread will be foreign speakers who will not want to be marked down for what their teacher will view as a mistake. However, from the point of linguistic study and analysis of English as a living language I maintain that conditional sentences with a "would" in both halves are found. I've noticed it for years because it makes the snobby side of me wince internally when I hear it. "would...would" is part of the English language, it is just not used in the prestigious varieties. Unless you wish to set yourself up as the international arbiter of the English bon usage I would suggest that you note where a usage is colloquial or popular or would be viewed as substandard - the foreign learners will thank you for it - or say "I have personally never heard this usage", which can allow people to identify regionalisms, but calling it "not English" does not seem to be very helpful to me, and potentially condescending to those who use it.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This thread has helped me clarify my unresolved ideas about the conditional "tense"-- some here may remember I once pointed out that it is often referred to as a mood instead. In a league with "indicative" and "imperative" rather than "future" or "past perfect."

    Here is how I sort it out.

    There are two sorts of statements you can make about conditional situations, the most straightforward of which establish an "if" clause and link it to a "then" clause.

    Example of the first kind:

    "If it rains this afternoon, I won't go to the picnic."

    This is a conditional construction in the indicative mood. The if-clause is in the present tense, and the then-clause in the future.

    Past-tense variants of the indicative mood statements about conditional situations all deal with forgone cause-effect relationships, and in their simplest form involve past-tense cause and effect clauses, linked by "so" rather than "if."

    "It rained yesterday afternoon, so I didn't go to the picnic."

    On the rhetorical level, these are conditional constructions-- on the purely grammatical, there is no special "tense" to convey conditionality. This is obvious in the indicative mood because we are dealing with faits accomplis-- what is less obvious is, that conditionality is involved.

    The conditionality of such statements is more overt, or more ad rem, in statements about conditionality that are made in the subjunctive mood.

    What I am saying is, the idea that there is a "conditional tense" or even a conditional mood (and this is the part that has confused me) is one that has grown up since the alleged demise of the subjunctive mood in English.

    Cause precedes effect, so the "then" clause in a conditional construction necessarily has an element of futurity. In indicative sentences, the simple future is used. In subjunctive sentences where the "if" clause is in the present subjunctive, the "then" clause is also in the subjunctive, and the modal would conveys the futurity, just as the modal will does in indicative statements about conditionality.

    The would in the so-called "conditional tense" is in fact the modal half of a future-subjunctive usage that is supposed to be dead in English, but has only been truncated.

    The "if you would" confusion arises from a different matter, and has been spelled out clearly by at least three posters-- but kinda glossed over as the thread progressed. That "would" is the past of "will," as in the phrase, "if God wills it so" (indicative) or "if God will it so" (subjunctive).

    As was pointed out, it is a verb meaning to want to, and the exhortatory subjunctive "would" is used to this day (and without affectation, to my AE ear) in polite constructions. "Would" in this case is not a modal, as has been pointed out-- and this is true even if you don't buy my notion that what we call the "conditional," whether tense or mood, is really a remnant form of subjunctive constructions about conditionality, where the if-then relationship is either conjectural, controversial or contrary to probability or fact.

    Hi everybody! I've been up in the high desert camping, too low on battery power to do much on the computer-- and often in wi-fi "blind spots." I'm in Iowa now, where my summer garb/guise is more in keeping-- and will be paying this site more frequent visits.

    For learners of English with teachers to appease, a caveat-- posts of mine do not give you license to neglect your studies by arguing that the topic at hand "doesn't exist." If you are assigned lessons in the conditional tense or mood or conditions of your parole-- meet the assignments! Learn the stuff as best you can, whether it "exists" or not. Your grade depends on that, not on my prodigious iconoclasm.
    .
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    ablazza said:
    'if I would have money ...'??? 'if you would have told me ....'??? Sorry, but this ain't English. In these cases one would use the imperfect tense + conditional clause, eg. 'If I had money I would buy ...', 'if you had told me I wouldn't have done it'. Also, 'if I were rich I would ...' 'if he were king he would be a complete prat ...'.
    I would normally express this (both verbally amd in writing) as
    Had I the money, I would buy…
    Had you told me, I wouldn't have…
    Were I rich, I would…
    Were he to be King, he… would still have sticky-out jug handles for ears! :D
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Conditional would is sometimes used in both clauses of an if-sentences. This is very informal, and is not usually written. It is common in spoken American English:
    It would be good if we'd get some rain.
    How would be feel if this would happen to our family?
    Practical English Usage (3rd edition) by M. Swan

    It is possible to use would in both clauses in US English but not in British English:
    US: The blockades wouldn't happen if the police would be firmer with the strikers.
    Br: The blockades wouldn't happen if the police were firmer with the strikers.

    Pearson Longman, Longman Exams Dictionary, grammar guide
     
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