If I won the lottery (imaginary condition), I would buy a house by the sea (imaginary result).

< Previous | Next >

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,

Thoughts and context:
Most of the definitions for the 2nd Conditional (Closed or Unreal Present or Future Conditional) are more or less like this:
The second conditional is about imaginary results of impossible or unlikely conditions in the present or future.
Eg.
If I missed the train, I would drive to work.
If I won the lottery, I would buy a house by the sea.

That said, why they never say that the condition is imaginary as well? If the result is imaginary, so is the condition, isn't it?
In the above is correct then this definition is fine. Am I right?

Definition:
We can use the closed or unreal present or future conditional to talk about imaginary results under certain imaginary conditions.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    For me, the problem with this kind of explanation is that all conditions are imaginary, because they are ideas in the mind, not facts.
    It is difficult for learners to grasp that one kind of condition is more imaginary than another, and more difficult again to understand when that distinction needs to be applied.

    That is why I recommend first, dividing conditions into open or closed and secondly, pointing out that the difference between them is only what the speaker believes.
    A closed condition is one which the speaker believes has not been met (past closed), is not met (present closed) or is unlikely to be met (future closed).

    Or, as the Oxford English Grammar puts it:
    Hypothetical conditions ... express the speaker's belief that the condition has not been fulfilled (for past conditions), is not fulfilled (for present conditions) or is unlikely to be fulfilled (for future conditions).
     
    Last edited:

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    For me, the problem with this kind of explanation is that all conditions are imaginary, because they are ideas in the mind, not facts.
    Hi wandle,
    Bein correct that all conditions are imaginary, except for scientific facts and universal truths, because they are ideas in the mind. The different definitions lead us to different understandings depending on the tenses we use in the conditional sentence, don't they?
    I personally don't find it difficult for learners to grasp that.

    In general terms these are the definitions:
    1. We can use the open or real present conditional to talk about habits, facts, and truths, under certain conditions.
    2. We can use the open or real future conditional to talk about possible future results under certain future conditions.
    3. We can use the closed or unreal present or future conditional to talk about imaginary results under certain imaginary conditions.

    As a conclusion depending on the type of conditional sentence not all of them have the same degree of imagination some are more likely to be fulfilled than others.

    TL
     
    Last edited:

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    A condition is always an idea in the mind, even in the case of a 'scientific fact'. What is a scientific fact? Something held to be true on the basis of current theory.
    What is a universal truth? Something that someone wants to present as an axiom of thought. ('We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ...' There is already plenty of room for disagreement there.)

    Hence I would avoid speaking of imaginary conditions (except for the purpose of making my present point).
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hence I would avoid speaking of imaginary conditions (except for the purpose of making my present point).
    Then the definition will be better without the word "imaginary" before "conditions"; right?
    We can use the closed or unreal present or future conditional to talk about imaginary results under certain conditions.

    TL
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I still would not use explanations of the kind you suggest. I have indicated what my approach would be, and I have also said that I cannot advise you what to say to your students, since I am not in your situation. Sorry not to be more helpful.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I still would not use explanations of the kind you suggest. I have indicated what my approach would be, and I have also said that I cannot advise you what to say to your students, since I am not in your situation. Sorry not to be more helpful.
    Hi wandle,
    You, as well as the others, have been very helpful, very helpful. :thumbsup:

    TL
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top