The bridge could have collapsed. The destruction might have been terrible.

Thomas1

Senior Member
polszczyzna warszawska
The bridge could have collapsed. The destruction might have been terrible.


Are the following sentences possible paraphrases of the above, please?
If the bridge had collapsed, the destruction might have been terrible.

Imagine that the bridge had collapsed, the destruction might have been terrible.


I am especially interested if the use of imagine that is correct here.

Thank you,
Tom
 
  • Vikorr

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    The bridge could have collapsed – This part sentence is structured in the form of a statement – stating that there existed a possibility that the bridge would collapse

    If the bridge had collapsed –The is structured as a rhetorical question – admitting there existed a possibility that the bridge could have collapsed.

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed – this is not a paraphrase of the first two, because it does not acknowledge the possibility that the bridge could have collapsed – rather it just asks a person to imagine it collapsing.
     

    Sharivan

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    To follow up, I'd write that like: "Imagine that the bridge (has) collapsed. If the bridge (has) collapsed, the destruction would have been terrible". Also, "If the bridge collapsed, the destruction would be terrible"

    That's my view!
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    To follow up, I'd write that like: "Imagine that the bridge (has) collapsed. If the bridge (has) collapsed, the destruction would have been terrible". Also, "If the bridge collapsed, the destruction would be terrible"

    That's my view!
    I'd like to question the use of Present Perfect in this case. Do you think it is acceptable in such cases (especially in the second sentence)?


    Tom
     

    Vikorr

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    Imagine that the bridge (has) collapsed. If the bridge (has) collapsed, the destruction would have been terrible
    Actually, though there's a problem with the tenses, the actual problem exists with the sentence concept, which goes from asking for fictitiuos imagination, to making a statement.

    A more fluent concept would be something like "Imagine the bridge has collapsed. If the bridge collapsed, could you imagine how terrible the destruction would be?"
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I'd like to question the use of Present Perfect in this case. Do you think it is acceptable in such cases (especially in the second sentence)?


    Tom
    No - it's not acceptable to my ear - it should be the pluperfect. If the bridge had collapsed...
     

    Sharivan

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    Actually, though there's a problem with the tenses, the actual problem exists with the sentence concept, which goes from asking for fictitiuos imagination, to making a statement.

    A more fluent concept would be something like "Imagine the bridge has collapsed. If the bridge collapsed, could you imagine how terrible the destruction would be?"
    What's the problem with the sentence: 'If the bridge has collapsed, the destruction would have been terrible'. It's an imaginary situation and that's correct in my view. In case it's not correct, if you know why, please, let me know :)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I can't imagine saying "Imagine that the bridge has collapsed ..." unless I wanted to set the scene for discussion about major incident planning.

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed - some time ago.
    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed - very recently.
    Imagine that the bridge collapses - some time in the future.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    What's the problem with the sentence: 'If the bridge has collapsed, the destruction would have been terrible'. It's an imaginary situation and that's correct in my view. In case it's not correct, if you know why, please, let me know :)
    It's not correct because you are mixing the hypothetical with the possible - you could say

    If the bridge has collapsed then the destruction will be terrible (so let's hope it hasn't and go and check to see).

    or

    If the bridge had collapsed then the destruction would have been terrible (but it didn't so no problem).

    Your sentence mixes up the two. Hope that helps.
     

    Sharivan

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    It's not correct because you are mixing the hypothetical with the possible - you could say

    If the bridge has collapsed then the destruction will be terrible (so let's hope it hasn't and go and check to see).

    or

    If the bridge had collapsed then the destruction would have been terrible (but it didn't so no problem).

    Your sentence mixes up the two. Hope that helps.
    Thank you very much, I agree with your explanation, it's clarified my mind :) . You are correct :tick:
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I can't imagine saying "Imagine that the bridge has collapsed ..." unless I wanted to set the scene for discussion about major incident planning.

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed - some time ago.
    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed - very recently.
    Imagine that the bridge collapses - some time in the future.
    Surely it's the same nuance as the perfect/past in other sentence types - the perfect links to the present, the past is over or hypothetical. So,

    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?

    or

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed, we would never have been able to cross the river! (but it didn't).
     

    Sharivan

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    I can't imagine saying "Imagine that the bridge has collapsed ..." unless I wanted to set the scene for discussion about major incident planning.

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed - some time ago.
    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed - very recently.
    Imagine that the bridge collapses - some time in the future.
    I totally agree with you, that was straightforward and totally helpful, thank you :) .
     

    Vikorr

    Senior Member
    Australia, English
    The word 'collapsed' has both past and present meanings :

    It collapsed and is collapsed. (that is why you can use 'it has collapsed' for a recent collapse)
     

    Sharivan

    Member
    Brazil / Portuguese
    Surely it's the same nuance as the perfect/past in other sentence types - the perfect links to the present, the past is over or hypothetical. So,

    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?

    or

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed, we would never have been able to cross the river! (but it didn't).
    Good illustrative example :) !
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Surely it's the same nuance as the perfect/past in other sentence types - the perfect links to the present, the past is over or hypothetical. So,

    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?

    or
    Out of sheer curiousity, what would be the difference for you between the above sentence and the following:

    Imagine that the bridge collapses, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?

    Imagine that the bridge had collapsed, we would never have been able to cross the river! (but it didn't).
    This is indeed a very good example, thank you. :)


    Tom
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    But your following sentence is identical to mine, isn't it?
    No, please have a look:
    [...]
    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?
    [...]
    [...]
    Imagine that the bridge collapses, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?
    [...]
    Maybe, I should've underlined that in my previous post.


    Tom
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Timpeac's sounds more natural to me of the two. If "collapses" is in the present, I would expect the rest of the sentence to be in the present:

    "Imagine that the bridge collapses, you run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree."

    The problem with this is that it raises the question, "How did you run out of rope after the bridge collapsed?" It comes across as a series of events.

    Timpeac's looks like a set of conditions that occur before the current moment (bridge collapsed, rope has run out) leading up to the current setting - you now have only a rusty blade and a tree.
     

    fireandstone

    Member
    English, US
    Imagine that the bridge has collapsed, you've run out of rope and have only a rusty blade and a tree. How do you now cross the river?


    OK, this sentence doesn't really flow because it doesn't follow a logical timeline. "Has collapsed" means that the bridge had collapsed at some point prior to the conversation. Then, "you have run out of rope" is also a point before the conversation (but was it before or after or even during the collapse of the bridge??). Next comes the problem: you switch to present to say that now you only have the rusty blade and tree (great example, by the way :) ). This leads the reader to believe that (this is where it gets complicated) first, you ran out of rope (but you had rope, a rusty blade, and the tree to begin with) then, suddenly the bridge collapsed, and finally you were left with the blade and tree. See, if you lose something- the rope- then at that instant you are left with whatever you still have-the blade and tree. There is no physical time for the actions to be split up by the action of the falling bridge- they must and will occur insantaneoulsy, purely because of the nature of the action (losing one thing but still having what you didn't lose). Whew! Does that make sense to you guys? At all?
     
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