It is better to ask him even though he (should) refuse / refuses.

sitifan

Senior Member
Hokkien & Mandarin Chinese
1. It is better to ask him even though he refuse.
2. It is better to ask him even though he should refuse.
3. It is better to ask him even though he refuses.
According to A New English Grammar (Second Edition) by Zhang Keli, the above sentences are all grammatically correct.
Are they all acceptable to native speakers?
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Quite honestly I have no idea if the present subjunctive can be used here (sentence 1), but the "subjunctive should" in (2) is fine (although it might not be used in AmE, and it does sound rather dated or formal in BrE). I cannot really think how sentence (3) might be used. Grammatically it is fine (in BrE, at any rate), but we don't generally use "though" and the simple present tense to refer to unknown possibilities in the future. I think either a modal verb ("...even though he might refuse") or using "if" instead of "though" works better.
     

    sitifan

    Senior Member
    Hokkien & Mandarin Chinese
    4. It is better to ask him even if he refuse.
    5. It is better to ask him even if he should refuse.
    6. It is better to ask him even if he refuses.
    How about the acceptability of sentences 4-6?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    1. It is better to ask him even though he refuse.
    2. It is better to ask him even though he should refuse.
    3. It is better to ask him even though he refuses.
    In AE these are all incorrect.This is correct:

    3a. It is better to ask him even though he will refuse.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    4. It is better to ask him even if he refuse.
    5. It is better to ask him even if he should refuse.
    6. It is better to ask him even if he refuses.
    How about the acceptability of sentences 4-6?
    The present subjunctive hasn't been used with "if" for over a century. Again, "should" might be used in BrE, but it sounds dated. Sentence (6) sounds fine to me.

    This is correct:

    3a. It is better to ask him even though he will refuse.
    I agree it is correct, but I didn't read sentences 1-3 as saying he would refuse, just that he might refuse.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We have to consider the context as well as the grammar. Do we know for sure, before we ask him, that he will refuse? If we don't, I would use a modal: "It's better to ask him, even if he might refuse." The "might" expresses our uncertainty about how he will respond.
     

    sitifan

    Senior Member
    Hokkien & Mandarin Chinese
    You can use the subjunctive with 'even though', in which case it has the same sense as 'even if':

    "Even though he were to bring me flowers every day, I will not mary him".
    And, as in a great many (if not most) examples of subjunctive followed by indicative, you can substitute the conditional in the 2nd clause:
    "Even though he were to bring me flowers every day, I would not mary him".

    But for the most part, 'even though' is used with the indicative, especially in spoken form, as 'even though'+subjunctive sounds a little old-fashioned, whereas 'even if'+subjunctive doesn't.

    And when you say 'if they can be used interchangeably', the answer is yes, since English ignores the subjunctive for the most part. So you could say:
    "Even if he brings me flowers every day I will not marry him." Or:
    "Even though he bring me flowers...."
    The first example is the way most people would express this sentiment in spoken form, ignoring the subjunctive. The second example is perfectly grammatically correct, but sounds like Shakespeare wrote it.

    Even if / though
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can use the subjunctive with 'even though', in which case it has the same sense as 'even if':

    "Even though he were to bring me flowers every day, I will not marry him".
    Yes, but this is the past subjunctive. Sentences #1 and #4 in this thread use the present subjunctive. The present subjunctive is still used for wishes and demands, and used to be used (in the nineteenth century, but rarely in the twentieth) for real possibilities in the present and future.

    The past subjunctive is used for a hypothetical situation in the present or future, but the sentences in this thread use "it is better...", not "it would be better...", and express a general truth.
    And when you say 'if they can be used interchangeably', the answer is yes, since English ignores the subjunctive for the most part. So you could say:
    "Even if he brings me flowers every day I will not marry him." Or:
    "Even though he bring me flowers...."
    No one now says "Even though he bring me flowers", nor have they done so for a hundred years. There would be nothing wrong with saying "Even if he brought me flowers every day, I would not marry him," but that is not what this thread is about.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Even though he were to bring me flowers every day, I will not mary him".

    "Even though he were to bring me flowers every day, I would not mary him".

    I wouldn't say either of these and I don't think either is right. What I would say is:

    "Even were he to bring me flowers every day, I would not mary him".

    Even though he bring me flowers...."
    This doesn't sound like Shakespeare to me. It just sounds bad. I don't know if Shakespeare would have written this or not.
     
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