<haven’t/hadn’t> promised

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zuotengdauo

Senior Member
Chinese-China
— I think we could go there for lunch today, if you _____ to go with someone else.
— That’d be wonderful, Joe.
A. don’t promise
B. hadn’t promised
C. won’t promised
D. haven’t promised

Hi. This is a test paper question.
The key is D, but I suspect B could also work, couldn’t it?
If B doesn’t work, I’d only guess it’s because this sentence is neither 2nd or 3rd conditional.”, but a first conditional since “we” haven’t gone there for lunch yet. Right?
Thank you.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I think we could go there --> this is an open option;
    if you hadn't promised to go with someone else --> as you point out, this is a 3rd conditional clause and it closes the option above

    B. involves a logical discrepancy that invalidates it as an option.

    Of course, I would have chosen D.

    However, now that I have been made to think about it more than I really should, A. does not seem grammatically impossible.
    I think we could go there for lunch today, if you don't promise to go with someone else. :D
    Despite being confusing, it does convey a message. Timid Joe is inviting her but past experience makes him think she just might promise him and then accept another invitation, so there is a note of accusation and bitterness, and sarcasm, in his statement. It is understandable - normal dates involve a couple, not a trio. :) I would have said it differently, though
    I think we could go there for lunch today, if you don't promise the same to someone else [AGAIN] :D
     
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    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Why does the following sentence work and there is no logical discrepancy?

    I would come with you tomorrow if I hadn't already promised... (this link)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Why does the following sentence work and there is no logical discrepancy?
    Because it's a straightforward 3rd conditional, except that the two parts are the other way round from how we normally teach it: Here we have "I would ... if I hadn't ..." instead of "If I hadn't ... I would...".
    It means I have already promised (...) and therefore I can't come with you tomorrow. Otherwise I would have loved to come with you.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    (In answer to boozer's #2)

    B - I think we could go there for lunch today, if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.

    It's more natural to use the third conditional: We could have gone...if you hadn't promised...

    I'm glad to say that I agree with the person who set your test. D is correct. It's a straightforward question for me, and not one of those horribly ambiguous ones we come across so often here.

    (crossposted)
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks Edinburgher and velisarius.
    Because it's a straightforward 3rd conditional
    The sentence in post #3 is a mixed 3rd and 2nd conditional. I don't see what the difference is between the sentence in post #1 and my sentence in post #3.

    [X]
    I would come with you tomorrow if I hadn't already promised...

    [Y] I think we could go there for lunch today, if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.

    The sentence structure is the same in both cases. But still sentence [X] is natural, whereas sentence [Y] is unnatural. If I were to change "could" to "would" in sentence [Y], would sentence [Y] be as natural as sentence [X]?

    I think we would go there for lunch today, if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    It's more natural to use the third conditional: We could have gone...if you hadn't promised...
    Would you use the third conditional even if the lunch was later on today and the possibility to break the promise still existed?
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    The sentence in post #3 is a mixed 3rd and 2nd conditional.
    Fair enough. The point is that it has the key attribute of the 3rd condition, namely the past perfect in the condition, which implies that the condition is closed/false. The fact is that I have promised, and therefore I will not come with you tomorrow.
    I don't see what the difference is between the sentence in post #1 and my sentence in post #3.
    The problem with (Y) is that it starts with "I think we could", which suggests that the possibility is still open. This contradicts the closed nature of "if you hadn't promised".
    If you keep "could", but turn it into an "unmixed" 3rd conditional, "we could have gone there", that would work.
    If you change "could" to "would" as you suggest, this would also work, at least grammatically. In practice it has a feeling of dwelling too much on the hypothetical, i.e. I have trouble imagining why anyone would say this, other than out of jealousy, trying to make the other person feel guilty for having promised to go with someone else.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I think I am slowly beginning to shake off my bafflement after JJXR's question. :)

    Probably the conditional 'could' only refers to a closed condition when it is in the protasis, i.e. in the if-clause.

    If you could come, would you? --> closed condition, you cannot come

    However, I find it very hard to see a closed condition coming in a sentence that says 'I think we could... [at some future time]' For the same reason I would not use JJXR's sentence [X] - 'I would come with you tomorrow' seems to tell me the person still might come.

    So for me the logical discrepancy remains.

    Cross posted with Edinburgher.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks Edinburgher and boozer.
    The problem with (Y) is that it starts with "I think we could", which suggests that the possibility is still open. This contradicts the closed nature of "if you hadn't promised".
    What if I change "would" to "could" in sentence [X], will it also contradict the closed nature of the if clause?

    I could come with you tomorrow if I hadn't already promised...
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The problem with (Y) is that it starts with "I think we could", which suggests that the possibility is still open. This contradicts the closed nature of "if you hadn't promised".
    [X] I would come with you tomorrow if I hadn't already promised...
    Hi Edinburgher, sentence [X] in post #6 starts with "I would come", but for some reason, in your opinion, it doesn't contradict the closed nature of "If I hadn't already promised". Does "would" imply here that the possibility of "coming with you tomorrow" is both closed and open: closed because I have already promised, and open because I would come with you tomorrow, for example, if the person (to whom the promise was made) were to tell me that they couldn't come for some reason?
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Does "would" imply here that the possibility of "coming with you tomorrow" is both closed and open
    Not really. Conditions can't be open and closed at the same time.

    Suppose I can't remember whether I have already promised to do something else tomorrow. Then I could say:
    "I will come with you tomorrow if I haven't already promised to do something else." This is open. We don't know whether the if-part is true, and therefore the then-part (the coming with you) is possible but undetermined.
    When I look at my diary, there are two possibilities. Either I have or I have not promised to do something else. This will determine whether the if-part is true, and therefore also whether the then-part is true.
    If I have promised something else, then I won't come with you. If I haven't promised something else, then I will come with you.

    But when I say "I would come with you" this already carries the implication that I won't come with you, and this matches the closed nature of the condition. Saying "If I hadn't promised" implies that I have promised.

    Essentially, your sentence X is equivalent to "I have already promised something else and therefore I won't (or can't) come with you tomorrow."
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the explanation, Edinburgher.
    Essentially, your sentence X is equivalent to "I have already promised something else and therefore I won't (or can't) come with you tomorrow."
    I think we would go there for lunch today, if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    The quoted sentence with "would go" is similar to sentence [X]. It can be interpreted in the same way as you have interpreted sentence [X]: "You have promised to go with someone else and therefore we won't (or can't) go there for lunch today." But, as you said in post #7, no one would ever say it. So, if there's no reason for anyone to say it, I think it is wrong. For it to be correct "would go" should be changed to "would have gone":

    I think we would have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:

    I think we would go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :cross:

    BUT:

    I think I would go there for lunch with you today if I hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:

    This leads me to the following conclusion: the choice of pronouns - "we" and "you" in this case - affects the choice of tense in the main and conditional clauses. Does this conclusion make sense to you?
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Does this conclusion make sense to you?
    No.
    I think we would have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:
    I think we would go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :cross:
    This marking (with :tick: and :cross:) is not quite right. What makes both sentences problematic is that they start with "I think". If you take that out, both these sentences are correct, but their meaning are different.
    The first version (would have gone) refers to a putative going in the past. This would be said after lunch. We did not go there for lunch, because of your promise.
    The second version (would go) refers to a putative going in the future. This would be said before lunch. We will not go there for lunch, because of your promise.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks Edinburgher.
    I think we would go there for lunch today, if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    If you change "could" to "would" as you suggest, this would also work, at least grammatically. In practice it has a feeling of dwelling too much on the hypothetical, i.e. I have trouble imagining why anyone would say this, other than out of jealousy, trying to make the other person feel guilty for having promised to go with someone else.
    If I drop the words "I think", is what you wrote in post #7 still true?
    This marking (with :tick: and :cross:) is not quite right. What makes both sentences problematic is that they start with "I think". If you take that out, both these sentences are correct, but their meaning are different.
    The first version (would have gone) refers to a putative going in the past. This would be said after lunch. We did not go there for lunch, because of your promise.
    The second version (would go) refers to a putative going in the future. This would be said before lunch. We will not go there for lunch, because of your promise.
    Does the same hold true for the versions below in which "could" is used instead of "would"? Are they also both correct if they do not start with "I think"?
    • We could have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:
    • We could go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Thanks Edinburgher.


    If I drop the words "I think", is what you wrote in post #7 still true?

    Does the same hold true for the versions below in which "could" is used instead of "would"? Are they also both correct if they do not start with "I think"?
    • We could have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:
    • We could go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else. :tick:
    I think that's what suggested back in #5. I don't see why adding "I think" should make such sentences as you've been discussing impossible.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks velisarius.
    I think that's what suggested back in #5. I don't see why adding "I think" should make such sentences as you've been discussing impossible.
    I'm confused. Is my understanding of what I have written below correct?

    The following sentences are correct only if they are said after lunch:
    • We could have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    • We would have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    The following sentences are correct only if they are said after lunch:
    • I think we could have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    • I think we would have gone there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    The following sentences are correct only if they are said before lunch:
    • We could go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    • We would go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    The following sentences are correct only if they are said before lunch:
    • I think we could go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
    • I think we would go there for lunch today if you hadn't promised to go with someone else.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I haven't been through all of the preceding posts, but it seems to me that all of the sentences could be said before lunch.
    Only the first four could also be said after lunch.

    The essential difference between the two main sets of sentences, for me, is that:

    - those with could/would have gone express acceptance that our having lunch there is impossible (or we did not have lunch there) - because of the promise;

    - those with could/would go hint at the real possibility of our having lunch there together - if you break your promise.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Actually, Panjandrum's answer is remarkably... ingenious.

    If you cannot solve the logical problem by decoding the message, think of a message that you would encode in such a way! :)

    Indeed, once a promise is given, the possibility of having lunch together is closed, so could and would sounded illogical to me and I was unable to accept them. Unless the speaker is trying to suggest in a subtle way that the promise should be broken!!! :thumbsup:
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't think there is necessarily any hint that the promise should be broken, but merely that the speaker is trying to make the other person either feel guilty about having made the promise (and leaving the speaker feeling abandoned an unloved), or else of genuinely regretting the promise (look at what a lovely restaurant it is, see what you'll be missing).

    Little does the speaker know that the other person has arranged to go to the exact same restaurant (so won't be missing out at all), but is going there with someone else! ;)
     
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