If we had this item, it would be on aisle 14

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vooli

New Member
hindi
If somebody is asking me about an item in the store and I am not sure if we have it or not, what should I say?

If we have it, it will be on aisle 14
or
If we had it, it would be on aisle 14
 
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  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    If somebody is asking me about an item in the store and I am not sure if we have it or not, what should I say?

    If we have it, it will be on isle 14 :tick:
    or
    If we had it, it would have been on isle 14
    The second sentence is in the past and means it would probably not be worth the customer going to Isle 14.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    The second sentence is in the past and means it would probably not be worth the customer going to Isle 14.
    Well, not really, FF. If it was in the past it would be:
    If we had had it, it would have been on aisle 14.

    Your second sentence is perfectly OK, Vooli, but I prefer the first.
     

    Rana_pipiens

    Senior Member
    USA / English
    The second sentence, "If we had it, it would be on aisle 14," is in the subjunctive tense. The subjective is used for talking about something contrary to fact. Either the clerk knows it isn't something normally stocked, or the customer has already looked on aisle 14.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It can be used for situations other than something contrary to fact. It's also used for hypothetical statements. That's how I would read this. In other words, the clerk is saying "I don't know for sure that we have it, but I do know how products are organized in the store. In the hypothetical situation that we had it (not past tense but subjunctive), it would be on aisle 14."

    The implication I would get from the first sentence is that there have been times when the product was stocked. The clerk doesn't know if there is any in stock right now.

    The implication I would get from the second sentence is that the clerk is not even certain that the store carries such a product. If the product is carried and is available it will be found on aisle 14.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The second sentence, "If we had it, it would be on aisle 14," is in the subjunctive tense.
    The subjunctive is not a tense, but a mood. The second sentence is not, in fact, in the subjunctive; the present subjunctive takes the form of the bare infinitive, and so the present subjunctive form of "have" is not "had", but "have". This means that the sentence which may actually be in the present subjunctive is the first one: If we have it....

     

    ALEX1981X

    Banned
    Italian
    Green I think that the second sentence is a past subjunctive used in a "second conditional" sentence. It is correct in my view - if we had it it would be on aisle 14. Number one is not a subjunctive but a simple present . It's a first conditional. If we have it, it will be on aisle number 14 (very probable fact)
    I agree with what has been written by James
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    For me the second sentence is an example of the 2nd conditional whereby the speaker seems to know he doesn't have it and is simply hypothecising where it would be if he did have it - 2nd conditional, past-tense verb forms, present-time reference.

    I wholeheartedly agree with GWB that the subjunctive is a mood, not a tense. However, I see subjunctive in neither of the two sentences, as the first one is, to me, an example of the 1st conditional. :)
     

    ALEX1981X

    Banned
    Italian
    Boozer the second conditional is , as you said, past tense + would, but the "past tense" we see, is not Indicative mood but Subjunctive in its past form. Pratically , apart the verb "to be" they're the same ;) We can use the Subjunctive to express impossible or just unlikely scenarios.
    The first conditional is simple present (Indicative mood) in the if clause plus the future simple "will".

    I found this http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/grammar_subjunctive.html
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Boozer the second conditional is , as you said, past tense + would, but the "past tense" we see, is not Indicative mood but Subjunctive in its past form. Pratically , apart the verb "to be" they're the same ;) We can use the Subjunctive to express impossible or just unlikely scenarios.The first conditional is simple present (Indicative mood) in the if clause plus the future simple "will". I found this http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/grammar_subjunctive.html
    Whatever our differences, Alex, I suppose they are a matter of terminology mostly. :) Some people see the subjunctve mood every time a past-tense verb form is used to express an impossible scenario. I am not one of them. According to the grammar I have been taught and believe in, conditionals and the subjunctive mood are two separate distinct categories. Not to mention the fact that, according to many grammarians, the conditional mood is a mood in its own right. I therefore decline politely, but firmly, to accept the two sentences here as examples of the subjunctive. Even if I have to die a martyr's death for this. :D
     

    ALEX1981X

    Banned
    Italian
    Hey Booz I've only told you that the second sentence is a past subjunctive in the "if clause" and nothing more. Not both the sentences ;) - I didn't say that
    Number 1 is not an example of subjunctive used in an hypothesis for sure :) Anyway it doesn't matter and I agree with you. The most important thing is to understand properly the right nuance conveyed by one form or the other
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    It can be used for situations other than something contrary to fact. It's also used for hypothetical statements. That's how I would read this. In other words, the clerk is saying "I don't know for sure that we have it, but I do know how products are organized in the store. In the hypothetical situation that we had it (not past tense but subjunctive), it would be on aisle 14."

    The implication I would get from the first sentence is that there have been times when the product was stocked. The clerk doesn't know if there is any in stock right now.

    The implication I would get from the second sentence is that the clerk is not even certain that the store carries such a product. If the product is carried and is available it will be found on aisle 14.
    That explains the distinction well.

    Regardless of whether the second sentence is classified as subjunctive, its mood is "irrealis", i.e. speculative.

    The second sentence therefore means:
    If it were in the store, it would be on Aisle 14.

    If its mood were interpreted as "realis" then it would mean:
    If it was in the store (at some past time), it would be on Aisle 14.
    .. and that is clearly the wrong interpretation in this context.

    There is a third alternative that the OP could use:
    If we have it, it would be on Aisle 14.
    ... if the presence of the item in Aisle 14 is less certain or subject to some other contingency.
     
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