plans if

azz

Senior Member
Persian
a. We have plans if he betrays us.

b. We have plans should he betray us.

(Meaning: we have plans to deal with his betrayal, if he does betray us.)

Are these sentences grammatical?
 
  • sallyjoe

    Member
    UK English
    I agree. I think this is part of a conversation, so yes you can say .

    "We have plans if he betrays us". If he betrays us, we have a plan.
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Er... sorry.....may... I ask a little little question???

    Does the use of "should" in the second sentence convey the idea of remote probability of the event taking place, whereas this does not happen in the 1st sentence (because, of course we don't have "should")?? :D



    Sorry Jacinta!!! You know ... I love splitting hairS :D
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Artrella said:
    Er... sorry.....may... I ask a little little question???

    Does the use of "should" in the second sentence convey the idea of remote probability of the event taking place, whereas this does not happen in the 1st sentence (because, of course we don't have "should")?? :D
    Both sentences show that the speaker thinks that the event might happen.

    If the speaker thought the chance of being betrayed was 0%, they would not have other plans. ;)
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Nick said:
    Both sentences show that the speaker thinks that the event might happen.

    If the speaker thought the chance of being betrayed was 0%, they would not have other plans. ;)



    :thumbsup: Thx for your explanation. It is crystal clear!!! But the "should" does not mean anything?? So why are there two different constructions??
    Can you explain it? Two different sentences, and the meaning is the same.
    I'm not referring to the fact that there is a probability of the event taking place, but do both have the same degree of ocurrence??? :thumbsup:
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Artrella said:
    :thumbsup: Thx for your explanation. It is crystal clear!!! But the "should" does not mean anything?? So why are there two different constructions??
    Can you explain it? Two different sentences, and the meaning is the same.
    I'm not referring to the fact that there is a probability of the event taking place, but do both have the same degree of ocurrence??? :thumbsup:
    I think it comes down to personal style and nothing more in this case.
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    lsp said:
    I think it comes down to personal style and nothing more in this case.


    Thanks, L! Maybe at school they teach us subtle differences that natives don't really do in real life!!! :thumbsup:
     

    kens

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Artrella said:
    :thumbsup: Thx for your explanation. It is crystal clear!!! But the "should" does not mean anything?? So why are there two different constructions??

    Actually, I may be wrong, but I think that sentence b. is the correct one. Sentence a. is an informal way of saying the same thing, but strictly speaking, if you look analytically at the structure, it does not mean the same thing at all.

    Sentence b. says that the plans definitely exist now, and if he betrays us we'll use them.

    Sentence a. says that the plans may or may not exist, depending on whether or not he betrays us. It does not say what the plans are for or when we would use them. In other words, sentence a. is nonsensical.
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    azz said:
    a. We have plans if he betrays us.

    b. We have plans should he betray us.

    (Meaning: we have plans to deal with his betrayal, if he does betray us.)

    Are these sentences grammatical?


    Both sentences are correct grammatically, the use of 'should' in b) is actually a subjunctive, which is used in much more formal contexts, but both are correct.
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    kens said:
    Actually, I may be wrong, but I think that sentence b. is the correct one. Sentence a. is an informal way of saying the same thing, but strictly speaking, if you look analytically at the structure, it does not mean the same thing at all.

    Sentence b. says that the plans definitely exist now, and if he betrays us we'll use them.

    Sentence a. says that the plans may or may not exist, depending on whether or not he betrays us. It does not say what the plans are for or when we would use them. In other words, sentence a. is nonsensical.



    hi Kens!! :) Yes; I'm not saying the sentence (b) is incorrect, just that for me it indicates that the probability of him betraying us is more remote that what sentence a suggests. :thumbsup: ;) :thumbsup:
     

    kens

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Artrella said:
    hi Kens!! :) Yes; I'm not saying the sentence (b) is incorrect, just that for me it indicates that the probability of him betraying us is more remote that what sentence a suggests. :thumbsup: ;) :thumbsup:

    Hi Art! Actually, I was trying to answer your question about why there are two sentence constructions that say the same thing. My opinion is that they do say the same thing -- the difference is that sentence b. is grammatically correct, while sentence a. is colloquial and grammatically incorrect.

    I don't think the word "should" says anything about the probability of it happening, in this case. It's just a synonym for au cas où. :)
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    To me, there is no difference between the two sentences. Lora is right. Should he betray us is the subjunctive, but since English doesn't put a lot of weight on the subjunctive, if he betrays us is equally correct. Here are some more examples:

    I brought some crackers should we get hungry.
    I brought some crackers if we get hungry.

    When will you be home tonight?
    Well, we have a meeting after work. Don't wait dinner for me should it run late. (if it runs late).

    I think this is one that you'll have to take our word for!

    Saludos
     

    kens

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    jacinta said:
    I brought some crackers should we get hungry.
    I brought some crackers if we get hungry.

    I guess I'm outvoted, but to me the should and if sentences are not the same. The appropriate if sentence that means the same as the should sentence above is:

    I brought some crackers that we can eat if we get hungry.

    Or something like that. The sentence Jacinta gave, "I brought some crackers if we get hungry", literally means that I don't know if I brought crackers or not; the answer depends on whether or not we get hungry.

    Of course, colloquially, we often leave out the "that we can eat" part, so that it sounds ok to our ears to omit it, but strictly speaking it's grammatically incorrect.

    Edit - In other words, "should" and "if" are not synonymous.

    "X should Y" = "X in the event that Y".
    "X if Y" = "If Y, then X".

    If we get hungry, then I had brought some crackers. If we don't get hungry, then I never brought the crackers.

    Does anyone else understand what I'm saying, or am I just completely mad as usual?
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    kens said:
    The sentence Jacinta gave, "I brought some crackers if we get hungry", literally means that I don't know if I brought crackers or not; the answer depends on whether or not we get hungry.

    Of course, colloquially, we often leave out the "that we can eat" part, so that it sounds ok to our ears to omit it, but strictly speaking it's grammatically incorrect.
    I understand.

    However, it is not grammatically incorrect. The sentence has a different meaning (literally), but it is still correct. Logical errors are not the same as grammatical errors.
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    Nick said:
    Logical errors are not the same as grammatical errors.
    This is truly brilliant! So many of these long threads come down to exactly this, but no one has ever expressed it so well. Thanks, Nick.
     

    kens

    Senior Member
    Canada - English
    Nick said:
    I understand.

    However, it is not grammatically incorrect. The sentence has a different meaning (literally), but it is still correct. Logical errors are not the same as grammatical errors.

    Yes, that's a better way of putting it. Now I'm getting myself all confused about the meaning of the word "grammatical". In any case, thank you, Nick, for agreeing with me that the (literal) meaning changes when you use "if".
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I think the correct conditional sentence would be:
    "I'll buy some crackers if we get hungry."
    and then you have another sentence:
    "I have bought some crackers in case we get hungry."
    But I don't know about:
    a. I have bought some crackers should we get hungry.
    and
    b. I have bought some crackers if we get hungry.

    I think the should structure could be used both as synonymous with "if..." and with "in case...", but I don't think b works here, but I am not a native speaker and I am not sure. I's say that if b is logically wrong, it is grammatically wrong as well, because we don't have the future tense in the main clause.
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    The sentence Kens gave 'I bought some crackers that we can eat if we get hungry' to me means the same thing as 'I bought some crackers if we get hungry' - after all, if you're hungry, what else are you going to do with the crackers but eat them?! I have no idea if it's strictly grammatically correct, but it sounds fine to me and makes sense.

    As for the sentences that Azz gave:
    a)I'll buy some crackers if we get hungry
    b)I have bought some crackers in case we get hungry
    c)I have bought some crackers should we get hungry
    d)I have bought some crackers if we get hungry

    To me, these are all correct conditional sentences - the condition is whether or not 'we' get hungry - in b), c), and d) I have the crackers...the condition determining whether we eat them is whether or not we get hungry.
    a) is the only one that is different in meaning, because I don't have the crackers yet, I will only buy them if we hungry but in the other three sentences I already have them.

    Like I said, and Jacinta agreed 'should' is the subjunctive, and has mostly been replaced by 'if' in less formal situations, so this is considered standard English and I don't consider there to be anything incorrect about it.

    If we get hungry, I have bought some crackers (that we can eat)
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    azz said:
    b. I have bought some crackers if we get hungry.

    I think the should structure could be used both as synonymous with "if..." and with "in case...", but I don't think b works here, but I am not a native speaker and I am not sure. I's say that if b is logically wrong, it is grammatically wrong as well, because we don't have the future tense in the main clause.

    Is the future tense required here in French?

    I have bought some crackers (they're already here) if we get hungry (present tense used but future implied - think about if we become hungry ie. we're not hungry now but we might be in the future and then we will eat the crackers)

    So the future tense isn't needed in the main clause and is implied in the 'if clause'
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    azz said:
    I think the correct conditional sentence would be:
    "I'll buy some crackers if we get hungry."
    and then you have another sentence:
    "I have bought some crackers in case we get hungry."
    But I don't know about:
    a. I have bought some crackers should we get hungry.
    and
    b. I have bought some crackers if we get hungry.

    I think the should structure could be used both as synonymous with "if..." and with "in case...", but I don't think b works here, but I am not a native speaker and I am not sure. I's say that if b is logically wrong, it is grammatically wrong as well, because we don't have the future tense in the main clause.

    I agree with Lora that I find all these sentences correct. However, I think that a is relatively high register and b relatively low (colloquial). I think however that someone could make a case for b being "ungrammatical" since although it doesn't break any rules, strictly speaking it doesn't make sense. I have bought some crackers whether or not we get hungry - there is no dependancy of the first part of the sentence on the second. The inference of this "if" is clearly "in case we get hungry". Despite this however, the construction is definitely used.
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    It does make sense though!!! It's just like an underlying message..
    Yes, I have brought the crackers whether or not we get hungry...but the sentence still makes sense because the speaker is saying that the crackers are there if they need to eat them.

    Both 'should' and 'if' mean the same thing in these sentences, so if 'if' doesn't make sense grammatically - then neither does 'should' but they both do!!

    'If we get hungry, we could eat the crackers that I have brought' is what the sentence is basically implying if you look at the pragmatics of it...

    like I said - what else are you doing to do with the crackers but eat them?!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Lora said:
    It does make sense though!!! It's just like an underlying message..
    Yes, I have brought the crackers whether or not we get hungry...but the sentence still makes sense because the speaker is saying that the crackers are there if they need to eat them.

    Both 'should' and 'if' mean the same thing in these sentences, so if 'if' doesn't make sense grammatically - then neither does 'should' but they both do!!

    'If we get hungry, we could eat the crackers that I have brought' is what the sentence is basically implying if you look at the pragmatics of it...

    like I said - what else are you doing to do with the crackers but eat them?!

    Ah ok Lora, yes I do agree with this - to a certain extent. As you correctly say, one can make the exact same comments about "should" that I did about "if" - yes. But I would then go on to conclude that yes, strictly speaking, "should" doesn't make sense here either. In both cases the crackers are bought, there is no dependant clause here on us getting hungry or not.

    However, on the pragmatic level again as you rightly say, yes their meaning is different from their form and quite clear (If we get hungry we could eat them). It is the psycological link between buying food and the possibility of eating it that allows the phrase to work. However, you must admit that from a word-for-word analysis they don't make sense? It is for that reason that I question whether or not they are "grammatical". I think this whole discussion is really hinging on the fact that there is no real accepted definition of what we mean by "grammatical".

    In fact, I was pretty much playing devil's advocate in my original questioning of whethere this break between form and meaning rendered them ungrammatical. Basically I am someone who believes that if there is a decent (itself subjective I know!) number of people who say something or use a certain form of expression then this is a perfectly acceptable - and therefore grammatical - usage of the language concerned, no matter what Mr concerned from Surbiton might think on writing to the Daily Mail! (reactionary right-wing tabloid for the non-Englanders out there!);)
     

    Lora

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Yeah, I can see your point but have absolutely no clue if it is very strictly speaking grammatically correct.


    I think this kind of conditional sentence must be a different kind of conditional sentence, because what timpeac said was right - all of the examples that have been used, use 'if' or 'should' as a synonym for 'in case'
    a) We have plans in case he betrays us.
    b) I have bought crackers in case we get hungry
    So the condition is whether or not he betrays us, and whether or not we get hungry respectively. In both sentences the 'if clause' is not dependent on the main clause...
    if this were the case the sentences would be something like:
    a) We will put our plans into action if he betrays us.
    b) We will eat the crackers that I have bought if we get hungry.

    If he betrays us we assume the plans will be put into action, and if we get hungry we assume the crackers will be eaten - but neither says this. Which is where the pragmatics - the underlying message - comes into it.

    I totally agree about defining what is and is not grammatically correct - especially in English where you can get away with so much.
    However, I would say that all of the conditional sentences that Azz cited are grammatically standard, though 'should' is the most formal way of expressing a conditional.

    'I have bought crackers should we get hungry'.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Lora said:
    Yeah, I can see your point but have absolutely no clue if it is very strictly speaking grammatically correct.


    I think this kind of conditional sentence must be a different kind of conditional sentence

    Yes, I think you've hit the nail on the head there. Although you can use both "if" and "should" perfectly grammatically to form conditional sentences, it would seem that you can use exactly the same forms to mean "in case", which happens to be the case in the original examples given.

    Anyhow whether meaning "true conditional "if"" or "in case", it would seem that most people are happy about using either construction, and also that most people agree the "should" form is more formal than the "if" form.

    Azz - I must agree with your comments on an earlier post -your little grammatical casse-têtes do lead to some really interesting debates!:)
     

    jacinta

    Senior Member
    USA English
    timpeac said:
    Azz - I must agree with your comments on an earlier post -your little grammatical casse-têtes do lead to some really interesting debates!:)

    Yes!! And here I thought we had wrapped this one up with a nice bow long ago :rolleyes: Not with this group ;) You're all so fun!

    chao, jacinta
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Well, it is good that you like my questions!!

    In French it is done in the same way as in English, but I tend to avoid "if" and to use "au cas où" (in case).

    J'ai apporté un parapluie au cas où il pleuve.
    I have brought an umbrella in case it rains.

    J'ai apporté un parapluie s'il pleut.
    I have brought an umbrella if it rains.
    (I never use this, but I think others do. It isn't really correct as far as I know.)

    J'apporterai un parapluie s'il pleuve.
    I'll bring an umbrella if it rains.

    Double-check everything I say about French though. I can't think in French and in English at the same time and get extremely confused.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    azz said:
    Well, it is good that you like my questions!!

    In French it is done in the same way as in English, but I tend to avoid "if" and to use "au cas où" (in case).

    J'ai apporté un parapluie au cas où il pleuve.
    I have brought an umbrella in case it rains.

    J'ai apporté un parapluie s'il pleut.
    I have brought an umbrella if it rains.
    (I never use this, but I think others do. It isn't really correct as far as I know.)

    J'apporterai un parapluie s'il pleuve.
    I'll bring an umbrella if it rains.

    Double-check everything I say about French though. I can't think in French and in English at the same time and get extremely confused.

    Do you use the subjunctive after au cas où? I've seen the conditional but never the subjunctive before "J'ai apporté un parapluie au cas où il pleuvrait". Doesn't mean it's not said of course - but I must say as a foreign speaker I don't remember seeing it.
     

    azz

    Senior Member
    Persian
    A good point! I think both of them are used. Actually I put in the conditional and then asked a friend and he voted for the subjunctive. The conditional should be more common, I would say.

    PS. Further research seems to show that using the conditional is indeed the more common way of doing it, if not the only way.
     
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