events which have not yet occurred in the future

Listenever

Senior Member
Korean
We have seen that the basic meaning of the Past tense in English is to locate an event or state in the past. It situate the event at a ‘temporal distance’ from the moment of speaking, whether in time, towards the past, or with regard to potential or hypothetical events which have not yet occurred in the present or the future.
(Angela Downing, English Grammar: A University Course)

I don’t have the idea what cases are in the English for ‘the potential or hypothetical events which have not yet occurred in the future.’ Would you let me get the case?
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I don’t have the idea what cases are in the English for ‘the potential or hypothetical events which have not yet occurred in the future.’ Would you let me get the case?
    For example:
    'If I were interested in football, I would go to the match' (present and future).
    'If you went to China, you could see the Great Wall' (future and future).

    Some people describe the tenses in these cases as past tenses. I see these verbs as subjunctives which use the past tense form.
     
    Last edited:

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    e.g.
    I will be going to my French class later, if the snow has cleared.

    Cleared is a past participle. My travel to the class is situated in the future and depends on the hypothetical thawing of the snow which (hopefully) will happen in the future too.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The labeling of tenses has always offered opportunities for reflection.
    When we mention the English Past Tense — or the Preterite — we usually associate it with past time, but when it comes to justifying cases such as "If I saw him in the street I'm not sure I'd recognize him" it may be embarrassing to label the form saw as Past Tense.
    The way I see it, the second form of English verbs — call it the non-present, if you like — has specialized in the expression of distance. Distance can be interpreted as chronological or psychological. In the former case the speaker expresses the notion of a distance (a hiatus, a deviation, a gap) between the event he is referring to and the moment of speaking:

    "I knew Russian when I was young" (ie, two different moments in the same world, ie, the real world).

    In the latter case, the speaker expresses the notion of a distance (a hiatus, a deviation, a gap) between the state of things at the moment of speaking in the real world (now) and the state of things in another "now" — a "now" in an imaginary, hypothetical world, where things went a little differently:

    "If I knew Russian I could find a better job" (the same moment in two different worlds), the operator "if" working as a sort of switch to a virtual world.

    GS
     
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