I'd prefer it if

Muhammad Khatab

Senior Member
Classical Arabic
  • AnythingGoes

    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    Longman's sentence is fine. Yours are, too, but the meanings are a little different.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree that that particular example is not a good one, because of the ambiguous way the statement is linked to a past situation. It’s easy to assume (as you have done) that didn’t is meant as a past tense reference to sales having gone down. But it isn’t – it’s subjunctive — so the sentence doesn’t mean what your alternative versions say. It implies:

    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn’t continue to happen. :tick:
     

    Muhammad Khatab

    Senior Member
    Classical Arabic
    I agree that that particular example is not a good one, because of the ambiguous way the statement is linked to a past situation. It’s easy to assume (as you have done) that didn’t is meant as a past tense reference to sales having gone down. But it isn’t – it’s subjunctive — so the sentence doesn’t mean what your alternative versions say. It implies:

    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn’t continue to happen. :tick:
    I know it's a subjunctive that doesn't express the past but the present. This is the reason why it's incorrect to use (didn't happen) instead of "hadn't happen" or "were the case".

    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn’t continue to happen. :tick:
    This makes sense to me.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I know it's a subjunctive that doesn't express the past but the present. This is the reason why it's incorrect to use (didn't happen) instead of "hadn't happen" or "were the case".
    It’s not incorrect if it means we don’t like it when this happens (implying we don’t want this to go on happening).

    It would be incorrect if it meant we wish that hadn’t happened. But that’s not what it means, it’s just your misunderstanding of it.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    :confused: You can use the past perfect to express a different meaning from the one intended, but we’ve already established that.
     

    Muhammad Khatab

    Senior Member
    Classical Arabic
    It’s not incorrect if it means we don’t like it when this happens (implying we don’t want this to go on happening).

    It would be incorrect if it meant we wish that hadn’t happened. But that’s not what it means, it’s just your misunderstanding of it.
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that hadn't happen. (= we wish that hadn’t happened)
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen. (we don't like it when this happens)
    But what is the difference between:
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen.
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I.e., in "I wish that hadn't happened.", "would prefer" could be used with the same meaning?
    You can use would prefer [the opposite] even to refer back to something that has already happened, yes. I’m not sure what this has to do with this thread.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But what is the difference between:
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen.
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case.
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen.
    that = sales going down (in general) — as you yourself put it: we don't like it when this happens​

    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case.
    that = the fact that the particular sales just mentioned have gone down (the case in point)​
     

    Muhammad Khatab

    Senior Member
    Classical Arabic
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen.
    that = sales going down (in general) — as you yourself put it: we don't like it when this happens​

    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case.
    that = the fact that the particular sales just mentioned have gone down (the case in point)​
    That's it. I got it!
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case. (a particular situation)
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen. (generally speaking)
    Thank you so much! You're the best, lingobingo!! :)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That's it. I got it!
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that weren't the case. (a particular situation)
    Sales have gone down, and obviously we’d prefer it if that didn't happen. (generally speaking)
    Thank you so much! You're the best, lingobingo!! :)
    Both of these are correct, but the first is very formal and rather clumsy and the second is just rather clumsy.

    There are reasoable ways of saying this sort of thing, like We'd rather this didn't happen. That avoids the hideous dummy it.
     
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