If you knew how they treated sheeps when they produced fabrics / wool...

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Fbohn21

Senior Member
Deutsch
Hello.

My teacher always says that he knows how animals are treated when companies produce fabrics.


He says:

If you knew how they treated sheeps when they produced fabrics you wouldn’t buy any more clothes from there.

I am wondering about “they treated” and “produced”.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    What are you wondering about “they treated” and “produced”? Vocabulary or grammar?
    You should probably wonder about "sheeps" too. ;)
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    There's no reason to use the past for the first two if you are talking about current practices.

    If you knew how they treated sheeps when they produced fabrics you wouldn’t buy any more clothes from there.
    The end of the sentence is poorly expressed and unnatural.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    I don’t understand what you are refering to.
    If you knew how they treat sheeps, you wouldn’t buy anything there.

    How is “wouldn’t” correct?
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    [Please note that this post and the following ones have been added to an existing thread based on the same sentence. DonnyB - moderator]
    I was told that the following sentence is unnatural:


    If you knew how they treated sheeps when they produced fabrics you wouldn’t buy any more clothes from there.

    Could someone please explain to me how the last part of the sentence is unnatural and poorly expressed?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The whole of the sentence is unnatural, but the last part is unnatural because we wouldn’t use “there”: ...any more woollen clothes
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The plural of sheep is sheep. "Fabric" (fabric in general) would be better than "fabrics" (specific fabrics). Even better would be "wool" since sheep are generally not present when wool thread/yarn is made into woolen fabric (they are even less involved in the production of non-woolen fabrics :)). (There are other non-language problems.)
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    What non-language problems are you referring to?

    Is t more natural to say:

    If you know how their suppliers treat their sheep, you wouldn’t shop there again.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    What non-language Problems are you referring to?
    This language-related problem that might give you a hint. Ignoring the meaning, we might assume that "they" and "there" are closely related, i.e. that the two pronouns probably relate to the same thing.
    If you knew how they cooked their burgers, you wouldn't eat there (the place where "they" cook burgers).
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But it is more appropriate to use the past tense “if you knew how they “treated”?
    More appropriate than what? We only have a sentence with "treated". What is "it" that you think might be more appropriate?
    Another assumption hidden in the sentence: You can't buy any more clothes from there unless you've already bought some clothes from there.
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    My original question was whether “if you knew how they treated their sheep when they produced things, you wouldn’t....”


    In your exmaple or the sentence you wrote you used “if you knew how they “COOKED”.

    And I am asking whether the past or present should be used after “you knew”
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    My original question was whether “if you knew how they treated their sheep when they produced things, you wouldn’t....”


    In your exmaple or the sentence you wrote you used “if you knew how they “COOKED”.

    And I am asking whether the past or present should be used after “you knew”
    You used "treated sheep" and I made a sentence using "cooked burgers". The sentences have the same tenses. Are you asking if they should cook the sheep? ;)
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    No.

    Should “if you knew” be followed by the past tense as in:

    “If you knew how they treat/treated sheep”....
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It can be followed by either. But what we’re missing here is the context of your original sentence - what do they and there refer to and what is the wider context of the sentence? You seem to be looking for rules along the lines of x is always followed by Y, and that’s simply not how English works. We can only answer with respect to a particular sentence and a specific context. The same sentence in a different context might not work.
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    The context is:

    My teacher wants to inform us on how the fashion industry can be cruel. He wants to express that he thinks that less people would by from cruel suppliers.

    I want to know whether it is correct to put:

    If you knew how the suppliers treated/treat their sheep and produce/produced their fabric, you wouldn’t be willing to buy from them.
    My question is whether both the present simple and the past simple can be used after “I knew” in this context.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is no reason whatsoever to put 'treat' in the past. The main verbs of each clause are 'know' and 'will' which need to be expressed using conditional forms because this is a hypothesis or unreal conditional. Verb forms have a variety of uses. It's important not to confuse 'form' with tense, that's to say 'time'.
    "If you knew ... , you would ... ."

    "If you knew how sheep are treated, you would not buy woollen clothes."

    The past simple form is used to express unreal time/hypothesis and tenseless conditional constructions. German has a distinct separate form for such constructions. English uses the past verb form for various functions.
    We are talking about the present.
    I really hope that your 'teacher' is not claiming to be a teacher of English as a foreign language! Writing 'sheeps' as a plural of 'sheep' is a basic mistake.
     
    Last edited:

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    He says:

    If you knew how they treated sheeps when they produced fabrics you wouldn’t buy any more clothes from there.
    The part in italics is also very poorly expressed. By the time "fabrics are being produced", the sheep has nothing more to do with it. You asked originally about tenses/verb forms. If you want to discuss other parts of the OP sentence they need separate threads. Otherwise we are proof-reading.
    Quite often we ignore small mistakes and focus on the OP grammar question. But your 'quote' is overall so badly expressed that it's hard not to mention the other problems.

    Are you translating what your fashion design teacher says in German? Is he a native English speaker, or what exactly?
     

    Fbohn21

    Senior Member
    Deutsch
    No he is not.

    So when we refer to habits and things that are always true we use the present simple even in conditional clauses?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    So when we refer to habits and things that are always true we use the present simple even in conditional clauses?
    No. Stop trying to invent general rules from specific examples - English simply doesn’t work like that. It is not like German and other languages where for a particular type of situation there is one and only one tense which can be used.

    If you want to analyse how one tense compares to another in a particular example please use sentences written by a native speaker. This sentence is completely wrong from start to finish, so discussing the tense is pointless.
     
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