if I do a rain dance at 5 P.M. and it rains at 6 P.M., did my dance bring down the rains?

xern

Senior Member
Chinese Taiwan
Hello, I was wondering why "did" is used in the following sentence:

Well, as any philosopher can tell you, one good reason for skepticism is that you can't make assumptions about causes. (omitted) For instance, if I do a rain dance at 5 P.M. and it rains at 6 P.M., did my dance bring down the rains? Probably not. But it's that kind of thinking, in my view, that characterizes much of the argument about how television influences our values.

Thanks in advance for help. :)
 
  • river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    The dance and the rain have already happened. So, the past tense did is needed: Did my dance bring down the rain?
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    The dance and the rain have already happened. So, the past tense did is needed: Did my dance bring down the rain?
    Thanks for your explanations.:)

    But...but I'm still confused. If "the dance" and "the rain" have already happened, then shouldn't they use the past tense either?:confused:
     

    Tabac

    Senior Member
    U. S. - English
    Thanks for your explanations.:)

    But...but I'm still confused. If "the dance" and "the rain" have already happened, then shouldn't they use the past tense either?:confused:
    I understand your confusion. It's a conditional sentence of a hypothetical nature. In effect, neither happened, but in the hypothetical situation, the dancing occured before the rain. Hence the past tense.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    I understand your confusion. It's a conditional sentence of a hypothetical nature. In effect, neither happened, but in the hypothetical situation, the dancing occured before the rain. Hence the past tense.
    Many thanks indeed!:)
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    Er...excuse me, I would like to get my confusion clearified:

    Did (or do?) I do the dance? Does (or did?) it rain?

    There seems to be two different opinions. That's really confusing.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    I understand your confusion. It's a conditional sentence of a hypothetical nature. In effect, neither happened, but in the hypothetical situation, the dancing occured before the rain. Hence the past tense.
    Personally, I second Tabac's point of view: neither the dance nor the rain happened.

    The "did" is used is because in the hypothetical situation the dance occured before the rain.

    The dance happened before the rain, therefore, even that they are hypothetical events, which means none happened, when A goes before B, A is the past events. Hence the past tense.
     

    jaxineau

    Senior Member
    English/Chinese; Canada
    Personally, I second Tabac's point of view: neither the dance nor the rain happened.

    The "did" is used is because in the hypothetical situation the dance occured before the rain.

    The dance happened before the rain, therefore, even that they are hypothetical events, which means none happened, when A goes before B, A is the past events. Hence the past tense.
    Anyone remembers another philosophical question?
    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

    The present indicative is used because it hasn't happened yet and it has the possibility of happening. How can one event be in the past if it hasn't happened yet. It statemnet could still be true. Like any other true statements, like the sun rises everyday, present indicative is used.
    If the order is crucial, then maybe this would be a better way of saying.
    If I have done a rain dance at 5PM, and it rains at 6PM, does my dance bring down the rain?
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    What happens is that two different "moods" are used in the two respective halves of the sentence.

    As has been said already, the first half is in the "hypothetical mood". What is used is what I would call a theoretical or virtual present or a present of "experiment". The same as in :
    If you throw the dice ten times and get a 3 twice, there is a xx in xx probability of............
    A present perfect or a past wouldn't work (or would work less well) with this "theoretical mood".

    In the second half, the speaker is compelled, in order to make his/her point more clear, to place him/herself and the two events on a timeline. Therefore the present is no longer possible.

    The above explanation may seem a little contorted but I believe the sample sentence itself is perfectly natural and you can hear that kind of things all the time.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    Anyone remembers another philosophical question?
    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
    Thank you for sharing this philosophical sentence. The example is similar to my question. Even the sentence structures are the same! And "does" is uesd in the one you offered.
    The present indicative is used because it hasn't happened yet and it has the possibility of happening. How can one event be in the past if it hasn't happened yet.
    So the dance and the rains haven't happened.
    If the order is crucial, then maybe this would be a better way of saying.
    If I have done a rain dance at 5PM, and it rains at 6PM, does my dance bring down the rain?
    I don't know if the order is crucial. I have thought the same way of saying it as you wrote. But, what I need is to understand why the author wrote in that way.:)

    Thanks a lot for your input!!
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    What happens is that two different "moods" are used in the two respective halves of the sentence.
    I agree with you.:)

    As has been said already, the first half is in the "hypothetical mood". What is used is what I would call a theoretical or virtual present or a present of "experiment". The same as in :
    If you throw the dice ten times and get a 3 twice, there is a xx in xx probability of............
    A present perfect or a past wouldn't work (or would work less well) with this "theoretical mood".

    I see.

    In the second half, the speaker is compelled, in order to make his/her point more clear, to place him/herself and the two events on a timeline. Therefore the present is no longer possible.
    Wow...hmmm...

    The above explanation may seem a little contorted but I believe the sample sentence itself is perfectly natural and you can hear that kind of things all the time.
    No, not at all. I don't think your explanation is contorted. On the contrary, I like your explanation very much and think them logical and making sense.

    Thank you very much, LV4-26.:)
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    In the second half, the speaker is compelled, in order to make his/her point more clear, to place him/herself and the two events on a timeline. Therefore the present is no longer possible.
    LV4-26, a thought came to my mind, I wondered if it makes any sense:

    If I do a rain dance and it ranins --> I havn't done the dance and it hasn't rain

    Therefore, the fact is that there are no dance and no rain.

    If I were you --> In fact, I am not you.

    My dance brought down the rains--> There's no "my dance" and there's no such thing as "bring down the rains". Hence, the past tense is used to express the unreal situation.

    My dance brought down the rains. --> Did my dance bring down the rains?

    ----
    Does my thought make any sense?
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    I understand what you mean but I disagree. What you're saying is that my dance brought down the rains could be a subjunctive of some description.

    The subjunctive could indeed be used in this sentence but it could only be used in the beginning. The end would then be in the conditional. You'd get something like :
    If I did a rain dance at 5pm and it rained at 6pm, would my dance have brought down the rains?

    Or, if you prefer
    If I were to do a rain dance....
    (just for the sake of making the subjunctive more obvious).


    To come back to the original wording, I thought that this might be of some help....maybe.....
    We could think of it this way :
    If I do a rain dance at 5pm and it rains at 6pm, [will I be right in thinking that] my dance brought down the rains.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    Anyone remembers another philosophical question?
    If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
    I answer to myself: my thought was wrong.:p

    Take, for example, the sentence given by jaxineau, the tree hasn't fallen and no one is actually there, but "does" is used to ask the previous unreal event.

    Therefore, I think LV4-26's explanation is more reasonable and logical.:)
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    I understand what you mean but I disagree.
    I just realized that.:p And you were faster than me to post.;)
    What you're saying is that my dance brought down the rains could be a subjunctive of some description.

    The subjunctive could indeed be used in this sentence but it could only be used in the beginning. The end would then be in the conditional. You'd get something like :
    If I did a rain dance at 5pm and it rained at 6pm, would my dance have brought down the rains?

    Or, if you prefer
    If I were to do a rain dance....
    (just for the sake of making the subjunctive more obvious).
    You are right. I couldn't agree with you more.:)
     

    jaxineau

    Senior Member
    English/Chinese; Canada
    I answer to myself: my thought was wrong.:p

    Take, for example, the sentence given by jaxineau, the tree hasn't fallen and no one is actually there, but "does" is used to ask the previous unreal event.

    Therefore, I think LV4-26's explanation is more reasonable and logical.:)
    The sentiment is the same, however. The tree must fall first to make the sound for the person to hear, but with an absence of the person, is the sound it makes still valid?
    I think we are missing out on another very important issue, which is the parallel structure.
    If you were to use present subjunctive, you would have to use the present indicative or future indicative in the second clause.
    If you had said "I did a rain dance at 5 and it rained at 6, it would have made sense to say "did my dance bring down the rains".
    But...You haven't done it yet...
     

    MrPedantic

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Cf.

    1. If I do a rain dance, one day, and it then rains, I might be thinking as I stand in the rain: did my dance cause the rain?

    In other words, the "dancing" is in the past from the point of view of the "thinking".

    The rhetoric seems to depend on a switch from a "hypothetical" point of view (in the if-clause) to a "real" point of view (in the "did I" question).

    (This makes it more vivid.)

    MrP
     

    jaxineau

    Senior Member
    English/Chinese; Canada
    Cf.

    1. If I do a rain dance, one day, and it then rains, I might be thinking as I stand in the rain: did my dance cause the rain?

    In other words, the "dancing" is in the past from the point of view of the "thinking".

    The rhetoric seems to depend on a switch from a "hypothetical" point of view (in the if-clause) to a "real" point of view (in the "did I" question).

    (This makes it more vivid.)

    MrP
    Nicely done! I like it. Thanks a lot. :D
     

    David

    Banned
    This one seems all over the place.

    Did my dance bring down the rains? Did is the auxiliary verb used to ask a question in the past tense.

    I went to work yesterday.
    Did you go to work the day before?
    Yes, I did.

    In the present, use do:
    Do you go to work everyday?
    Yes, I do.

    Did your dance bring down the rain?
    No, it did not.

    What´s all this stuff about mood and hypotheticals and conditionals? It's a simple interrogative in the indicative mood: Did you wake up at 4 AM? Did you finish elementary school? Do you like ice horseradish? Yes, I do. Did you like horseradish when you were a child? No, I did not.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    Cf.

    1. If I do a rain dance, one day, and it then rains, I might be thinking as I stand in the rain: did my dance cause the rain?

    In other words, the "dancing" is in the past from the point of view of the "thinking".

    The rhetoric seems to depend on a switch from a "hypothetical" point of view (in the if-clause) to a "real" point of view (in the "did I" question).

    (This makes it more vivid.)

    MrP
    Great explanation! The precise example of what LV4-26 called "a timeline". Thank you very much!:)

    By the way, I have found another similar example sentence which makes me understand more about the "theoretical or virtual present" situations:

    If a person is missing for nine years in that country, he is presumed dead.
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan

    To come back to the original wording, I thought that this might be of some help....maybe.....
    We could think of it this way :
    If I do a rain dance at 5pm and it rains at 6pm, [will I be right in thinking that] my dance brought down the rains.
    Of course, this is also a great example sentence of explanation and is truly help a lot!:)

    What Mr. P said is what LV4-26 had said, just in different words.:) Great minds think alike; Great wits jump together. Right?:D We Chinese say:"Heroes have identical views." ;) Thank you all!
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    Great explanation! The precise example of what LV4-26 called "a timeline". Thank you very much!:)
    Just to elaborate on this and make the link between MrPedantic's post and my own. The way I see it is that the writer needs to restore some kind of a time line at the end of the sentence (because then, "the order is crucial", to use jaxineau's words), which results in 'switching' back to "the 'real' point of view" as MrPedantic put it.

    Just a reminder for those who might find this discusssion weird and useless (which it indeed might be, but that's all the fun of it ;)). The purpose of all this, in the first place, was basically to try to eludcidate why the writer didn't say, for instance, "If I did a rain dance at 5pm and it rains at 6pm......"
     

    xern

    Senior Member
    Chinese Taiwan
    The purpose of all this, in the first place, was basically to try to eludcidate why the writer didn't say, for instance, "If I did a rain dance at 5pm and it rains at 6pm......"
    Pardon me, but I have to disagree.:D (Since the question has been clarified, I have no intention to continue this thread; but...)

    In the first place, my question was why did the author use "did" in the main clause?

    Then, from this thread I have learned that the theoretical and
    experimental hypotheses use the present tense, but not the past or past perfect tense, in both the if-clause and the main clause.

    The examples:
    A.) If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
    B.) If you throw the dice ten times and get a 3 twice, there is a xx in xx probability of............
    C.) If a person is missing for nine years in that country, he is presumed dead.

    Therefore, it's O.K. (normal and correct) to say, "If I do a rain dance at 5 P.M. and it rains at 6 P.M.,..."

    But why not use "do" but "did" to say, "Did my dance...?" That's the question.

    And the question has been solved. :D
     
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