If they came for my bones the next day, they <were disappointed>.

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park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
The protagonist, one of Amber's princes and half immortal, caught pest at London, and took over a prostitute's room.

I made it to the door and barred it. Then I crawled back to the bed and slept.
If they came for my bones the next day, they were disappointed. For, perhaps ten hours later, in the middle of the night, I awoke in a cold sweat and realized my fever had broken.
[Nine Princes in Amber" of The Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny]
I think the underlined sentence is conditional 1.
And I was wondering why "were disappointed" is used, not "would be disappointed."
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    No, it's not a Conditional 1 (or 2 or 3), PSJ. It's talking about events which took place entirely in the past.

    The idea is "Maybe they came for my bones the next day, and maybe they didn't. If they did come, they were disappointed."
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, Loob, for your so kind answer. :)
    Protagonist didn't, doesn't know whether or not they came in.
    So It's not fact.
    And I was wondering in this case why I can't use a Conditional.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ... And I was wondering in this case why I can't use a Conditional.
    What do you mean, PSJ? Depending on your point of view, the original sentence either was or wasn't a conditional. (I would say it was.) I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean by "I can't use a conditional":(.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    He does not know whether they came looking for his dead body or not, because he had survived the plague and gone out onto the streets. The sentence is spoken from a point after the time when they might have come.
    Thank you, Loob, for your so kind answer. :)
    Protagonist didn't, doesn't know whether or not they came in.
    So It's not fact.
    And I was wondering in this case why I can't use a Conditional.
    It might well be fact. All we can say is that the protagonist doesn't know whether they came or not.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, Loob, for your continuing support. :)
    Thank you, JulianStuart, for your so valuable opinion. :)

    And I'm so sorry for my poor knowledge. :(
    But I was wondering if it is fact why the narrator use "if."
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you, Loob, for your continuing support. :)
    Thank you, JulianStuart, for your so valuable opinion. :)

    And I'm so sorry for my poor knowledge. :(
    But I was wondering if it is fact why the narrator use "if."
    We don't know that it is fact.
    If it is later established that they did come, it is certain that they were disappointed.
    But it may be established later that they did not come.
     

    park sang joon

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thank you, JulainStuart, for your continuing support. :)
    I was confused by the tense used with "if."

    1. If they came for my bones the next day, they were disappointed.
    2. If they came for my bones the next day, they would be disappointed.

    I'd really like to know the difference between #1 and #2.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you, JulainStuart, for your continuing support. :)
    I was confused by the tense used with "if."

    1. If they came for my bones the next day, they were disappointed.
    2. If they came for my bones the next day, they would be disappointed.

    I'd really like to know the difference between #1 and #2.
    We use 1 because this whole event is in the past and the only uncertainty is whether they did come or not (it is certain that they would have been disappointed if they had come). "When they came for my bones the next day (if indeed they did come) they were disappointed".

    If you wanted to use a form like 2) it would be "If they had come for my bones the next day, they would have been disappointed." That expresses doubt that they came.
     
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