He told us that if it were fine yesterday, they would go on a picnic.

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Exp

Senior Member
Japanese
  1. He said to me, "If it were fine today, we would go on a picnic."
  2. He told us that if it were fine yesterday, they would go on a picnic.
Is sentence #2 correct?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    No, if you convert sentence (1) into reported speech you need to say:

    2a. He told us that if it had been fine yesterday, they would have gone on a picnic.
     

    Exp

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    No, if you convert sentence (1) into reported speech you need to say:
    2a. He told us that if it had been fine yesterday, they would have gone on a picnic.
    Then can you say as follows?:

    He said to me, “If I were rich, I would make a studio in my house”.
    → Correct: He told me that if he had been rich, he would have made a studio in his house.
    → Wrong: He told me that if he were rich, he would make a studio in his house.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    No, 'were' and 'would' already have a kind of past tense marking on them (though they don't really refer to past time). So when you backshift to past after 'he said', they are already past: enough for backshift. You don't change them into a remoter past. But in your original sentence 2, 'if it was' (not 'if it were', which is for a false hypothetical) really is about past time, so you do backshift it further to 'if it had been'. see correction below
     
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    Exp

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    No, 'were' and 'would' already have a kind of past tense marking on them (though they don't really refer to past time). So when you backshift to past after 'he said', they are already past: enough for backshift. You don't change them into a remoter past. But in your original sentence 2, 'if it was' (not 'if it were', which is for a false hypothetical) really is about past time, so you do backshift it further to 'if it had been'.
    OK. So correct sentences are:

    1. He said to me (yesterday), "If it were fine today, we would go on a picnic."
    2. He told us (yesterday) that if it had been fine (yesterday), they would have gone on a picnic (yesterday).
    1. He said to me (yesterday), “If I were rich, I would make a studio in my house.”
    2. He told me (yesterday) that if he were rich (yesterday), he would make a studio in his house (yesterday).
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    He said, "If it is fine today, we will go on a picnic." That's if there's a real possibility.
    He said, "If it were Saturday today, we would go on a picnic." Today isn't Saturday, so this is not a possibility. 'If it were' is only used when it isn't true, or when it is unlikely to be true.

    Ignore the part in my previous comment when I said :cross:'if it was'.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    1. He said to me (yesterday), “If I were rich, I would make a studio in my house.”
    2. He told me (yesterday) that if he were rich (yesterday), he would make a studio in his house (yesterday).
    The type 2 conditional is tenseless and timeless. "If I were rich, I would make a studio in my house" is a statement about the whole of my lifetime, not about today.
     

    Exp

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    The type 2 conditional is tenseless and timeless. "If I were rich, I would make a studio in my house" is a statement about the whole of my lifetime, not about today.
    So there are timeless subjunctive sentences ("He told me that if he were rich, he would make a studio in his house") and subjunctive sentences that do have tense ("He told us that if it had been fine yesterday, they would have gone on a picnic. ")?
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    For me, if today he says "If it were fine today, we would go on a picnic." means that it isn't (and isn't expected to be) fine today. See entangledbank's #6 with indicative: "If it is fine today, we will go on a picnic." In indirect (reported) speech at about the same time 'today', presumably morning, that would be "He told me that if it is fine today, they will go on a picnic.", because it's still a possibility 'today' (perhaps, although it hasn't been fine so far today, the weather forecast says it might clear up in time for them to go on a picnic).
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    subjunctive sentences
    Verbs can be subjunctive but I don't think tenses can be.

    For me, type two and type three conditionals are by default tenseless and timeless, but the context can, and often does, put them in a particular time frame. Here are some examples of their use in unusual timeframes.
    We are going to the zoo tomorrow. If we had had more money we would have gone to Paris for the day instead.
    We know that the criminal entered the flat somehow. If he had a key, he would go in through the door, wouldn't he?

    I am not sure whether everyone uses type two and type three conditionals with such free reference to time.
     
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