I'd be surprised if he came/ comes

Ultramarine

Senior Member
Ukrainian
Hi,

The key to the exercise I'm doing says " came" is the correct answer:

I'd be surprised if he _____(come).

I understand it as a second conditional sentence. But why can't I say " comes" ?

Many thanks!
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi,

    The key to the exercise I'm doing says " came" is the correct answer:

    I'd be surprised if he _____(come).

    I understand it as a second conditional sentence. But why can't I say " comes" ?

    Many thanks!
    But the second conditional would be I'd be surprised if he came, which is entirely correct.

    The equivalent first conditional would be I'll be surprised if he comes, which is entirely correct, and suggests that he is unlikely to come, in your view, less likely than with the second conditional sentence.

    Having said that, I ought to add that many native speakers could say I'd be surprised if he comes, but I'd regard it as slightly slack speech. Certainly one couldn't call the key to your exercise wrong, as I suspect you know, Ultramarine.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But the second conditional would be I'd be surprised if he came, which is entirely correct.

    The equivalent first conditional would be I'll be surprised if he comes, which is entirely correct, and suggests that he is unlikely to come, in your view, less likely than with the second conditional sentence.

    ...

    Which likelihood of coming is higher, "I'd be surprised if he came" or "I'll be surprised if he comes"? I think the latter.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Which likelihood of coming is higher, "I'd be surprised if he came" or "I'll be surprised if he comes"? I think the latter.
    You cannot say which is more likely, as they are different sentences that would be said on different occasions.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But the second conditional would be I'd be surprised if he came, which is entirely correct.

    The equivalent first conditional would be I'll be surprised if he comes, which is entirely correct, and suggests that he is unlikely to come, in your view, less likely than with the second conditional sentence.

    ....

    You cannot say which is more likely, as they are different sentences that would be said on different occasions.

    Please look at the comments above from Thomas Tompion.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Which likelihood of coming is higher, "I'd be surprised if he came" or "I'll be surprised if he comes"? I think the latter.
    I think Paul was answering the question "which of these two sentences are you more likely to hear?" (To which the answer is "both are equally likely";).)

    In both "I'll be surprised if he comes" and "I'd be surprised if he came", the likelihood of his coming is small. I suppose that the first exhibits slightly more hope.
     

    sunyaer

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    ...

    In both "I'll be surprised if he comes" and "I'd be surprised if he came", the likelihood of his coming is small. I suppose that the first exhibits slightly more hope.

    It's different than the comments given by Thomas Tompion in #5

    ...

    The equivalent first conditional would be I'll be surprised if he comes, which is entirely correct, and suggests that he is unlikely to come, in your view, less likely than with the second conditional sentence.

    ...
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's angels dancing on the head of pins, sunyaer.

    I'm not going to fight anyone over whether I'll be surprised if he comes represents a more or less unlikely situation than I'd be surprised if he came.
     
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