How significant would it be

exinc

New Member
Chinese
Hi , guys, I 'm a new member here and I just want to ask a question ,I'm currently writing an essay and the question for this essay is
Is Korean unification inevitable? How significant for East Asia would it be if it were to occur?* and I'm kinda confused, with regard to the second part of the question I want to know whether it is asking about what will happen to Asia in the future, if the two koreans were to united in the near future or what would have happened in Asia if the two korea were united? personally , I think the first one is actually right , I just want to make sure of that. Thank you so much.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    The first sentence implies that you strongly believe the unification will take place, as you think it might be inevitable.

    The second sentence, on the other hand, which is also correct grammatically, places unification in a lot more hypothetical or imaginary world, implying that you do not see it as likely. The subjunctive 'were' in a type 2 conditional has the tendency to make things sound that way. And then, the sentence asks if unification will be significant for Asia in the not-very-likely event that it occurs. So, yes, it is about the future - about a future the speaker finds unlikely or suggests as a possibility in a very tentative kind of way.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Welcome to the forum.

    The question is asking about the future. You need to look at the tenses of "to be" and "occur"; had the question been asking about the past, it would have been: "How significant for East Asia would it have been if it had occurred?

    Please could you write out words like "kinda" in full ("kind of") when posting here. Although you may well encounter this kind of contraction online or in speech, it is not part of standard written English.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    How significant for East Asia would it be if it were to occur?

    Other (better?) ways of phrasing it:
    How significant would it be for East Asia if it were to occur?
    If it were to occur, how significant would that be for East Asia?

    I don’t agree that the subjunctive “were” (which in no way suggests the past tense) necessarily implies that something is unlikely. It depends on the context. And here the opposite seems to be the case, since the use of the word “inevitable” in the first question gives the impression that unification is thought to be extremely likely.


    Oxford’s definition of SUBJUNCTIVE: Relating to or denoting a mood of verbs expressing what is imagined or wished or possible.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don’t agree that the subjunctive “were” (which in no way suggests the past tense) necessarily implies that something is unlikely.
    I concur. This subjunctive often does imply that (or is used in situations where) it is unlikely or even impossible (e.g. "if I were you, I'd ..."), but here it seems to be genuinely exploring a hypothetical possibility that could be on the cards.
    since the use of the word “inevitable” in the first question gives the impression that unification is thought to be extremely likely.
    I don't think so. It's just a rhetorical question. It could well be asked in the tone of "Is it inevitable?" as in "Is it really inevitable?", with the expectation that the answer will be "No, it's far from inevitable; indeed it's virtually unthinkable!".
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    How significant will it be, if it occurs?
    How significant would it be, if it occurred?
    How significant would it be, if it were to occur?


    All these are ways of referring to the future. What is different is the perceived likelihood or the tentativeness with which the condition is explored. Of course, all depends on context and I am far from saying there is anything inherently wrong with combining the two sentences, but I still believe that of these three, the third one is the one given to us as the least likely.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    …if it did occur might suggest that the speaker thought it unlikely. But I still don’t see “were to occur” as doing that. We’ll have to agree to differ.
     
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