deal which <reduced> their capability [past simple]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by vladv, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. vladv Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Please look at the following

    "But America’s missile-defence capabilities— which Russia sees as a threat to its deterrence—would be dragged into any such negotiations, and the missile-defence facilities in Europe are there to deal with Iran. A deal which reduced their capability should—at least in a normal world, and assuming Congress is not wholly supine—be hard for Mr Trump to swallow, or sell."

    From the context it is clear that the deal which would reduce missle defence is not agreed upon. Yet the verb "reduced" is used in the past simple, though it's not a conditional one. Please explain. To my understanding reduced is the same as would reduce. So in English we can use the verb in the past to talk about the probable future?

    <Edited by moderator (Florentia52) to add line breaks for readability>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2017
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Where did you find this? It seems to be poorly written.
     
  3. vladv Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2017
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It seems fine to me, Paul."Reduced" is used because the deal under discussion is a hypothetical one.
    The idea is Any deal that reduced....
     
  5. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    Hello vladv, on the face of it, your reasoning is correct. HOWEVER: "reduced" here is (in my opinion) a past subjunctive, which has the same form as the past simple. It is used because it is clear that the deal, as Loob says, is hypothetical. They're talking about what might or would happen if.... (This would be translated by a conditional construction in Russian.)

    A deal which reduced their capability should ... = a deal (if it were to happen) which were to reduce their capability should ...
     
  6. vladv Senior Member

    Russian-Russia
    Thanks a lot! So it is akin to " If elected he would sap the economy" ?
     
  7. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    Yes, I think so. "If elected he would sap the economy" renders neatly the hypothesis or speculation "if he were to be elected", or "if it were to happen that he be elected", or "were he to be elected". "If elected" here (followed by a conditional in the result clause) looks like a past simple indicative, but it's a past subjunctive.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
  8. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    "But America’s missile-defence capabilities— which Russia sees as a threat to its deterrence :confused:
    "reduced
    their capability" seems to have the referent "the missile-defence facilities in Europe" - it should be "reduced that capability.

    "But America’s missile-defence capabilities[...] would be dragged into any such negotiations, and the missile-defence facilities in Europe are there to deal with Iran. The blue section does not seem to have a relation to the earlier part.

    It is probably/hopefully clear now that a source has been given and can be consulted.
     

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