it would/will be better if

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lingkky

Senior Member
chinese
My mother is now cooking meat in the kitchen. I want to give her my suggestion on the food.

1.“Mom, it would be better if you added some sugar to the meat."

2.“Mom, it would be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

Can someone tell me which version is correct?
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    2.“Mom, it would be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”
    Will is not the future tense - it is an expression of certainty

    Would is not the past tense of will - it is an expression of less certainty – it is considered more polite.

    2. Mom, it would [= probably will] be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    3.“Mom, it will [= certainly will] be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    Add/added

    if you now add some sugar to the meat."

    if you added some sugar to the meat." = if you were to add, at some time in the future, some sugar to the meat."
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Why do you say that?
    because you say that “added” is about sometime in the future. But my context is about the present. My mother is cooking. I am giving her suggestion.

    would+ added version seems not suitable. Is not?
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    My mother is now cooking meat in the kitchen. I want to give her my suggestion on the food.

    1.“Mom, it would be better if you added some sugar to the meat."

    2.“Mom, it would be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    Can someone tell me which version is correct?
    They are all correct (as has been stated already).

    What happens in all three sentences is simply this: to introduce the adjective "better," you need auxiliary "be." You can conjugate "be" (Mom, it is better) or you can use a modal verb, in which case "be" appears as a bare infinitive/non-conjugated (Mom, it would/will better). Semantically, "will" carries a sense of "certainty" that's not encoded in "would."

    With "if," you can use "add" or "added." The semantic difference can be expressed this way: "add" represents a categorical assertion, whereas "added" becomes attenuated ("softer") assertion. In other words, "if you add some sugar" could be interpreted by the mom as too strong, too assertive, too upfront, so it's common for the speaker to attenuate/soften the message by saying "if you added some sugar."

    Some grammar books/teachers leave the impression that if you use "would" you must use "if you added," and if you use "will" you must use "if you add." This may make teachers happy, but that's not how language really works.
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    They are all correct (as has been stated already).

    What happens in all three sentences is simply this: to introduce the adjective "better," you need auxiliary "be." You can conjugate "be" (Mom, it is better) or you can use a modal verb, in which case "be" appears as a bare infinitive/non-conjugated (Mom, it would/will better). Semantically, "will" carries a sense of "certainty" that's not encoded in "would."

    With "if," you can use "add" or "added." The semantic difference can be expressed this way: "add" represents a categorical assertion, whereas "added" becomes attenuated ("softer") assertion. In other words, "if you add some sugar" could be interpreted by the mom as too strong, too assertive, too upfront, so it's common for the speaker to attenuate/soften the message by saying "if you added some sugar."

    Some grammar books/teachers leave the impression that if you use "would" you must use "if you added," and if you use "will" you must use "if you add." This may make teachers happy, but that's not how language really works.
    Really?
    “It will be better if you added some sugar.”
    I do not think this sentence would be correct.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Really?
    “It will be better if you added some sugar.”
    I do not think this sentence would be correct.
    Sure it's correct. "Added" is not marking past tense; "added" is marking modality (speaker perspective, that of "attenuation"). Of course, in your use, you can always match will with add; nothing wrong with that either.
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Sure it's correct. "Added" is not marking past tense; "added" is marking modality (speaker perspective, that of "attenuation"). Of course, in your use, you can always match will with add; nothing wrong with that either.
    I see. I have never seen this usage before. May be people do not use this form even though it is not wrong.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    1.“Mom, it would be better if you added some sugar to the meat."
    2.“Mom, it would be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”
    3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    If this is just a suggestion, I choose #1.

    If it's a statement of fact, I choose #3 - though I find "it" rather ambiguous: does it refer to the food/meat, or is it impersonal?

    I wouldn't use #2. No reason to.

    (My own mother would have been offended by #3, and not very pleased with the more tentative #1.)
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    1.“Mom, it would be better if you added some sugar to the meat."
    2.“Mom, it would be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”
    3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”

    If this is just a suggestion, I choose #1.

    If it's a statement of fact, I choose #3 - though I find "it" rather ambiguous: does it refer to the food/meat, or is it impersonal?

    I wouldn't use #2. No reason to.

    (My own mother would have been offended by #3, and not very pleased with the more tentative #1.)
    Would you choose this sentence?
    “It will be better if you added some sugar.”
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”
    3. is OK if, in, 3.“Mom, it will be better if you add some sugar to the meat.”, the "it" refers to the meat itself or the taste of the meat.
     

    lingkky

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Is it correct that it is better to use the “would” form if it is a suggestion?the “will” form is also ok, right ?“ It may be less common to use the “will” form.
     
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