It would be an air hostess. If I was given the chance to do this job in the future.

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Happy Pancake

Senior Member
Malaysia-Mandarin


It would be an air hostess. If I was given the chance to do this job in the future.



Context


Speaker A:
Describe an interesting job you would like to have.

Speaker B:
If I could choose any job, It would be an air hostess.If I was given the chance to do this job in the future, I'd be very happy.It's my dream so hopefully one day it will come true.

Reference:

My tuition teacher handout

My tuition teacher told me that only some of the past tenses can be used to talk about a hypothetical situation.

I find that the sentence as mentioned above is very weird.I understand "could" expresses a present/future possibility according to my grammar book, but why the "would be" and "was given" are used in the sentence?

I am very confused, because they are merely past tenses that can't be used for speculation, right?

Reference:
Advance Grammar in use, 2nd edition,Martin Hewings.
 
  • JamesM

    Senior Member
    The question is entirely hypothetical. If, in some supposed alternate or future time, I was given the chance to do a particular job of my choosing it would be working as an air hostess.

    What would you use instead, Happy Pancake?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    My tuition teacher told me that only some of the past tenses can be used to talk about a hypothetical situation.

    I find that the sentence as mentioned above is very weird.I understand "could" expresses a present/future possibility according to my grammar book, but why the "would be" and "was given" are used in the sentence?

    I am very confused, because they are merely past tenses that can't be used for speculation, right?
    I find this very weird, too. :confused:

    That sentence involves speculation about a hypothetical situation, and for that reason in BE the subjunctive should be used in the if-clause: the correct sequence of tenses there is -
    If I were given the chance to do this job in the future, I'd be very happy.

    That's now a common, correct conditional sentence (known as type II) where the if-clause uses a past subjunctive and the main verb has the conditional tense to express this sense of speculation about something which is not, in fact, happening. :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Speaker B: If I could1 choose any job, It would be2 an air hostess3. If I was were given4 the chance to do this job in the future, I'd be5 very happy.It's6 my dream so hopefully one day it will come7 true.

    1. 2, 4, 5 These are not really in the past tense. They all express a present/future possibility and are in the subjunctive voice. The subjunctive does not really express a tense. We say "If I were a policeman I would arrest you now." even though we are speaking about the present time, we are not speaking about reality - I am not a policeman.
    3 It is not, "an air-hostess" it is "air-hostess" <- this is the name of the job
    6 It is presently your dream. It is your dream, now. -> present tense.
    7 you are speaking about the future directly.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    This is very interesting to have the BrE speakers arguing for the subjunctive in this case. :) I avoided mentioning the subjunctive because it seems that it's a point of contention with British English speakers, even in hypothetical situations, unless it's a statement of complete impossibility. I assumed "If I was given" would be accepted by a fair number of people because it is still a possibility, not a distinct impossibility.

    That said, I prefer "were" in this context, too. Nice to join a few others in supporting that.
     

    Happy Pancake

    Senior Member
    Malaysia-Mandarin
    About these "Subjunctive" sentences, are they formal or just informal (used for speaking only instead of writing) ?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The subjunctive is used all the time both spoken and written.

    Some teachers, grammarians, etc, don't like the subjunctive and consider it unnecessary, others do like it and some even want to make more use of it. The subjunctive mood of the verb is commoner in American English.

    Some people say that the subjunctive sounds formal, other people say it is simply good English.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    About these "Subjunctive" sentences, are they formal or just informal (used for speaking only instead of writing) ?
    They're both. :)

    I suppose there's an understandable tendency to use the subjunctive correctly more in writing, where you have a chance to look at what you've written and see whether it's right or not.

    You will both see and hear "was" used incorrectly, but I must say it's a bit disappointing to see it in material which is apparently being used for teaching. :eek:

    [cross-posted with Paul]
     

    Happy Pancake

    Senior Member
    Malaysia-Mandarin
    Thank you Paul, Donny and James for your explanation.

    I have just found these questions on my tuition teacher handout:

    a) Would you like to wear uniform for work?
    b) Would you work for a small but successful company in the future?
    c) Would you be happy when you don't buy anything while shopping?

    Do you think they are all hypothetical questions? Because it seems that a) and c) are like "Preference" and "Feelings" questions instead of hypothetical questions?I just wonder whether I can use the past subjunctive to answer all of these questions......or just simply use present tense to answer them?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I wouldn't use the present tense. :)

    "Would you like to wear a uniform to work?" "Yes, I like to wear a uniform to work." :cross:

    Sentence c) looks like it has an error, in my opinion. I would write is as "Would you be happy if you didn't buy anything while shopping?" (Actually, I would phrase it as "Would you be happy if you shopped without buying anything?"
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It's a common use of "would" there just to ask questions in a polite way, and you certainly can answer using the present tense.

    For example to Q(a) you could reply "No, I think it's an absolutely awful idea."

    You only need to use a subjunctive in the way we were discussing earlier if you answer in the form of a hypothetical if-clause.

    So for Q(b) you could answer "I would love to do that if I were ever to get the opportunity".

    PS - I agree with James about Q(c) having an odd mix of tenses. :confused:
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    DonnyB, how would you answer question A in the affirmative using the present tense?
    "Yes: I think it's a great idea" or, less positively "Well I'm certainly willing to give it a try" :)

    To be fair, I think it depends on what point of grammar those questions are designed to test the student's knowledge of, and I stongly suspect the purpose of the exercise isn't to elicit totally open-ended answers in quite the way that I'm playing about with. ;)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I can't see how to strictly answer in present tense using the words in the question. That's what I assumed they were asking.

    Also, I assumed the exercise was about hypothetical situations. If I'm asking a student if they would like to wear a uniform to work I assume I'm talking about their (hypothetical) job after they've left school. :)
     

    Happy Pancake

    Senior Member
    Malaysia-Mandarin
    It's a common use of "would" there just to ask questions in a polite way, and you certainly can answer using the present tense.

    For example to Q(a) you could reply "No, I think it's an absolutely awful idea."

    You only need to use a subjunctive in the way we were discussing earlier if you answer in the form of a hypothetical if-clause.

    So for Q(b) you could answer "I would love to do that if I were ever to get the opportunity".

    PS - I agree with James about Q(c) having an odd mix of tenses. :confused:
    Hi Donny,

    Do you mean that I can use present tense or subjunctive (if-clause) to answer any hypothetical questions right? Does this mean if the question starts with "Would" (would you like, would you go, would you prefer, would you take, would you......), I can answer them with present tense or subjunctive (If -clause) based on my preference? I am very confused now.:oops::(
     
    Last edited:

    Happy Pancake

    Senior Member
    Malaysia-Mandarin
    I wouldn't use the present tense. :)

    "Would you like to wear a uniform to work?" "Yes, I like to wear a uniform to work." :cross:

    Sentence c) looks like it has an error, in my opinion. I would write is as "Would you be happy if you didn't buy anything while shopping?" (Actually, I would phrase it as "Would you be happy if you shopped without buying anything?"
    Hi James,

    If I change the sentence into "Yes, I would like to wear a uniform to work. It is very comfortable to wear a uniform to work." Is this sentence ok without the "If clause"?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Do you mean that I can use present tense or subjunctive (if-clause) to answer any hypothetical questions right? Does this mean if the question starts with "Would" (would you like, would you go, would you prefer, would you take, would you......), I can answer them with present tense or subjunctive (If -clause) based on my preference? I am very confused now.:oops::(
    Sorry, this is partly my fault. :oops:

    As James says (post #14) this all appears appears to be from some sort of exercise getting you to describe your ideal hypothetical job, and so the questions are framed using the conditional "Would you like to be an air hostess...?", "Would you like to wear a uniform...? and so on.

    So in writing about this hypothetical job, yes - it would be more natural to use conditionals a lot. You could say for example:
    "I would like to be a flight attendant because I love travelling and I'd get the chance to see exotic new places."
    "I wouldn't want to be a flight attendant, as I'd hate to have to wear a uniform.

    But you don't necessarily have to use if-clauses + the subjuntive there.


     
    DonnyB, how would you answer question A in the affirmative using the present tense?
    Since Donny B didn't go there,--possibly suspecting a trap--:D I will.

    "Would you like to wear a uniform to work?" (asked of me in the present)

    "Yes, I would." :) (answered by me in the present, in reference to a hypothetical future, in which case, if I were to be found wearing the uniform, it would be an imaginary present time not yet realized. :rolleyes:)
     

    Happy Pancake

    Senior Member
    Malaysia-Mandarin
    Sorry, this is partly my fault. :oops:

    As James says (post #14) this all appears appears to be from some sort of exercise getting you to describe your ideal hypothetical job, and so the questions are framed using the conditional "Would you like to be an air hostess...?", "Would you like to wear a uniform...? and so on.

    So in writing about this hypothetical job, yes - it would be more natural to use conditionals a lot. You could say for example:
    "I would like to be a flight attendant because I love travelling and I'd get the chance to see exotic new places."
    "I wouldn't want to be a flight attendant, as I'd hate to have to wear a uniform.

    But you don't necessarily have to use if-clauses + the subjuntive there.

    Since Donny B didn't go there,--possibly suspecting a trap--:D I will.

    "Would you like to wear a uniform to work?" (asked of me in the present)

    "Yes, I would." :) (answered by me in the present, in reference to a hypothetical future, in which case, if I were to be found wearing the uniform, it would be an imaginary present time not yet realized. :rolleyes:)
    Thank you Donny and Dale Texas.:D:thumbsup:
     
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