conditionals

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gburtonio

Senior Member
UK, English
In this fascinating thread (from 2011), there is a discussion about the verb tenses/forms used in other languages for sentences equivalent to 'If I had money, I would buy a house':

If I had ... I would (conditional sentences)

I have a related but different question. Thinking about the main clause of conditional sentences in languages you know (in the example above, the main clause is 'I would buy a house'), is the verb form one that can also be used without the presence of an if-clause? For example, in English, the answer would be 'yes' – we can say things like 'I would love to visit Australia one day'. There's nothing special about would + infinitive, as it's something we use outside the context of conditional sentences.

I'd also like to extend the question to 'real' conditionals, e.g. 'If I have time, I will help you.' Which verb forms appear in the main clause in the equivalent sentence in other languages? And, again, is this a form that can be used outside the context of a conditional sentence? (In English the answer is 'yes', again – there's nothing special about the use of 'will' in this context, as 'I will help you' is essentially a promise, and we use will for promises al the time.)

Thanks!
 
  • Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I have a related but different question. Thinking about the main clause of conditional sentences in languages you know (in the example above, the main clause is 'I would buy a house'), is the verb form one that can also be used without the presence of an if-clause?
    Russian uses the conjunctive mood in both the if-clause and the main clause. (Morphologically it's basically equivalent to the past tense forms combined with the "by" particle.)
    It's also the same mood which is used in nearly all kinds of hypothetical situations. So the answer would be 'yes, very much so'.
    Yésli by yá býl sultán, (to) yá by imél tryókh zhón. (If CONJ I was (imperf.past.masc.sg.) sultan, (then) I CONJ had (imperf.past.masc.sg.) three (acc.pl.) wives (acc.pl)). - "If I were a sultan, I'd have three wives".
    Cf. Yá by khotél imét' tryókh zhón (I CONJ wanted (imperf.past.masc.sg.) have (imperf.inf.) three (acc.pl.) wives (acc.pl)) - "I'd like to have three wives".
    I'd also like to extend the question to 'real' conditionals, e.g. 'If I have time, I will help you.' Which verb forms appear in the main clause in the equivalent sentence in other languages?
    Russian uses simple indicative forms here in both clauses. E.g.:
    "Yésli u menyá búdet vrémya, yá pomogú tebé" (If at me (gen.) be (imperf.fut.3p.sg.) time (nom.sg.), I help (perfective.fut.1p.sg) you (dat.sg.)) - lit. ~"If I will have time, I will help you".
     
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    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Indeed, conditionals tend to be the last grammatical topics at the end of most language textbooks. It is the "king" of grammar. I wonder if there is a language where conditional is a simplae, easy grammatical phenomenon. Except Esperanto, etc, but I know nothing about those artificial lingoes.

    Hungarian: Majd segítek, ha lesz időm. [I chose the if-sentence second, it is more natural in Hungarian], lesz - Future Tense
    So yes, we use Future, of course, what you might have expected, no? :)
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Indeed, conditionals tend to be the last grammatical topics at the end of most language textbooks. It is the "king" of grammar. I wonder if there is a language where conditional is a simplae, easy grammatical phenomenon.
    Well, as you can see, it's not really difficult in Russian. No tenses at all for hypothetical situations and no additional morphology aside from one particle (and a couple of minor nuances regarding its usage), while "real" situations just require indicative forms of the semantically applicable tenses in any of the clauses...
    The verbal morphology is generally a big trouble in Russian, but not when it comes to conditionals and whishful expressions.
     

    Olaszinhok

    Senior Member
    Standard Italian
    Indeed, conditionals tend to be the last grammatical topics at the end of most language textbooks. It is the "king" of grammar
    I wouldn't say so, in English you generally learn conditionals at B1 level. As for Russian, conditionals are a walk in the park, compared to other languages, morphologically speaking.
     
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