I could take you for a ride if you want/wanted.

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
Context: Speaker offers to give Listener a ride when the latter didn't ask for it.

(1) I could take you for a ride if you want.
(2) I could take you for a ride if you wanted.

Are both possible?
 
  • Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    1) I could take you for a ride if you want. :tick:
    (2) I could take you for a ride if you wanted. :cross:
    Thanks a lot, Parla. I still have a question. If "want" is correct, why is there a "could", is the "could" the same as in "Could you tell me your name"?
     

    lapdwicks

    Senior Member
    Sinhala
    1) I could take you for a ride if you want. :tick:
    (2) I could take you for a ride if you wanted. :cross:
    Hi,

    Although the second one isn't correct according to the context, it works with second conditional (when you don't want a ride), isn't it?
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Although the second one isn't correct according to the context, it works with second conditional (when you don't want a ride), isn't it?
    Since you mentioned the second conditional, I don't know why the context of the OP doesn't go along with the second conditional.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Both sentences are correct, as far as I am concerned. Example 1) uses 'could' as a modal verb referring to the present time. Sentence 2) uses 'could' as the past-tense form of 'can' and represents an example of type 2 conditional.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Thanks a lot, Parla. I still have a question. If "want" is correct, why is there a "could", is the "could" the same as in "Could you tell me your name"?
    "Could" here simply means "am able to." So it's a bit different from the "could" in "Could you tell me your name," where it's just being used because it sounds more polite than "Tell me your name."
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'd say they were both correct, though I would have thought that both sentences contained the present tense of the modal 'could'.

    I'd think of the second sentence (with 'wanted') as being more tentative, or speculative (than the first), and as extending the duration of the offer (of a ride). (Cross-posted with JK)
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I do not know what exactly Benny means by 'faux-past tense' but from a grammar point of view both tenses of the verbs in the conditional sentence (could and wanted) are quite genuinely past. :) Of course, they do refer to the present time, semantically and, of course, I do agree that sentence 2 is the more polite and tentative of the two.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Hi, Beryl. Well, type 2 conditionals use past-tense verb forms. That we do know. If I "wanted" to give you a ride, I "would" surely do so. But I do not want to... Alright, some people refer to them as forms in the conditional tense. I have no problem with that. It is just a small technicality anyway.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Now I have these questions.:D
    1) I could take you for a ride if you want. :tick:
    (2) I could take you for a ride if you wanted. :cross:
    Parla, you don't seem to think of it as a second conditional. Why is that?

    Both sentences are correct, as far as I am concerned. Example 1) uses 'could' as a modal verb referring to the present time. Sentence 2) uses 'could' as the past-tense form of 'can' and represents an example of type 2 conditional.
    Boozer, "'could' as a modal verb referring to the present time", isn't this what the 'could' in a type 2 conditional really is? If so, is the second conditional allowed to choose between the present tense 'want' and the past tense 'wanted'?

    "Could" here simply means "am able to." So it's a bit different from the "could" in "Could you tell me your name," where it's just being used because it sounds more polite than "Tell me your name."
    JustKate, would it be possible to say this?: "I am able to take you for a ride if you want." Which somehow sounds odd to me, for whatever it's worth. Moreover, if it's equivalent to 'am able to' here, then why do you think the speaker chose 'could' over 'can', which I'm sure is no less close to 'am able to'.

    I'd say they were both correct, though I would have thought that both sentences contained the present tense of the modal 'could'.

    I'd think of the second sentence (with 'wanted') as being more tentative, or speculative (than the first), and as extending the duration of the offer (of a ride). (Cross-posted with JK)
    Beryle, what do you mean by the present tense of the modal 'could'?
    Also, what do you mean by the second sentence extending the duration of the offer?

    I'm OK with 2) and to me it sounds British or Canadian; it's a polite form using a faux-past tense that strikes the American ear. To a guest in a present situation: "Did you want something to eat?"
    bennymix, so you don't think that 2) is the second conditional, do you? Why not?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I find it strange that anyone could reject the second sentence.

    I wonder if they'd object to I'd be able to take you for a ride if you wanted.

    The offer could also be expressed I can take you for a ride if you want. That sounds less tentative, and very natural, to my ear.

    I see nothing in the context, as described in the OP, to discount any of the forms we are considering.

    The desire to sound polite and to avoid sounding insistent or importunate takes us off into modal forms very readily.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Beryle, what do you mean by the present tense of the modal 'could'?
    I think you should see boozer's explanation as there's clearly something missing from my understanding here.
    Also, what do you mean by the second sentence extending the duration of the offer?
    (1) I could take you for a ride if you want. <-- Here the offer of the lift (ride) seems limited to the very near future, and, I would interpret the offer as being extended on a once-only basis.
    (2) I could take you for a ride if you wanted. <-- Whilst here, the offer seems to extend further forwards in time, with the offer of repeat rides left open. This offer seems more accommodating to me - any time, any place, anywhere.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Replying to my part of JK's bagful of questions, I could say that the verb forms used in conditionals follow a pattern, as you know: 1st: I will come if you want; 2nd: I would come if you wanted; 3rd: I would have come if you had wanted. Thus, 'would' is the past-tense form of 'will' and the same can be said about 'can' and 'could'. That we have 'could' as a modal verb referring to the present time is also true and historically the conditional form, I am sure, is linked to the modern modal verb. As I said, I believe toit is better to keep those separate for the sake of clarity. And, no, in the 2nd conditional we cannot choose between 'want' and 'wanted' - it is 'wanted' and nothing else. This is exactly what makes the sentence an example of the 2nd conditional and helps us distinguish between the forms of conditional being used. Thus, your example 1 is type 1 conditional namely because 'could' is used as a modal verb referring to the present time, whereas sentence 2 is strictly 2nd conditional, where we have to use past-tense forms only. In other words, in sentence 1 we can use 'can', whereas I would not do so in sentence 2.
     
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