If you win a lottery...

jakartaman

Senior Member
Korean
Can we say "If you win a lottery, what do you want to do?"

I thought it'd always have to be "If you won a lottery, what would you do?" because winning a lottery is nearly impossible and

we use an if-conditional structure to describe an impossible situation, don't we?

I happened to come across the given sentence in some composition book and made me wonder if it is OK to say in such a way.

Many thanks in advance :)
 
  • jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    There's no context. It's one of those books with Korean sentences that need to be translated into English.
    As far as I know,
    If you win a lottery, what would you do?
    If you won a lottery, what would you do?
    Those two are correct.

    If you win a lottery, what do you want to do?
    Maybe possible in a conversation???
    I'm not a native speaker but I wouldn't think it sounds awkward if someone said that to me in a passing conversation.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    As far as I know,
    If you win a lottery, what would you do?
    If you won a lottery, what would you do?
    Those two are correct.

    If you win a lotter, what do you want to do?
    Maybe possible in a conversation???
    In fact the first of those sentences is not correct. It's presenting an open condition: "if you win a lottery" - winning the lottery is possible (however slim you think the chances are ;)) and so it needs to say "...what will you do".

    The second one is a hypothetical condition and that one's correct.

    And yes, you could say "If you win a lottery, what do you want to do?"
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I don't know why, but I'd say "If you win lottery" or "If you win the lottery" if possible. Winning a lottery looks a little bit strange to me. I'd be very thankful if someone explains/expands this.
     
    Last edited:

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't know why, but I'd say "If you win lottery" or "If you win the lottery" if possible. Winning a lottery looks a little bit strange to me. I'd be very thankful if someone explains/expands this.
    In the UK we tend to say "If you win the lottery" meaning the National Lottery, which is the one most people play, but it doesn't sound right to me to leave the article out altogether.
     

    jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    So again, "If you win a lottery, what do you want to do?" is OK?

    That throws me off.
    Though it doesn't sound strange to my non-native ears, it "looks" strange because it seems to go against the grammar rules I'm familiar with
    but if a native speaker says it is OK, I guess it is.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    In the UK we tend to say "If you win the lottery" meaning the National Lottery, which is the one most people play, but it doesn't sound right to me to leave the article out altogether.
    We tend to use such an expression here too, which means the National Lottery. In spite of everything, I believe that keeping the "a" in that sentence would make us (at least, me) think that it's an ordinary lottery. Using the "the" would be perfect even though we don't have so much information about the context. What I think is that the "a" would look 'a little' bit strange.
     

    jakartaman

    Senior Member
    Korean
    We tend to use such an expression here too, which means the National Lottery. In spite of everything, I believe that keeping the "a" in that sentence would make us (at least, me) think that it's an ordinary lottery. Using the "the" would be perfect even though we don't have so much information about the context. What I think is that the "a" would look 'a little' bit strange.
    Here is the answer you are looking for: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/36991/win-the-lottery-win-a-lottery-win-lottery

    I'd like to have some more native speakers confirm--though I truly appreciate DonnyB's comment--if "If you win a lottery, what do you want to do?" is really acceptable. It's because it just looks odd as I mentioned.
     

    WildWest

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    Considering some certain contexts, of course the "a" doesn't look strange at all. For instance, a friend of mine and I are sitting at a café and discussing on what we would do in case of winning a lottery. The "a" here, as far as I guess, refers to an ordinary lottery which can be played in any ordinary countries of the world. At first, your sentence looked like it was wrong and I still don't know whether it's perfectly true or not. The only thing I'm sure of is that the importance of using the "a" can differ depending on what your context is.
     
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