Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by dukaine, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. dukaine Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    English - American
    How do I know when to use the past-present construction and when to use the future for "would"? All the posts on "would" that I found only deal with "if" clauses.

    I knew the storm would hit us at any moment.

    He knew he would be punished when he got home.

    I didn't think that he would show up since his ex is here.

    I'm not really sure what to do with these. Thanks for the help.
  2. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    As far as I know (from Bolozky/Coffin's grammar book),
    If the "would" is used as an indirect future statement embedded in a past-tense sentence, in the form of "I knew/said/thought I would do..." then it is rendered as a future tense in Hebrew (Hebrew doesn't change tense of indirect statement to match the sentence it's in, unlike English).
    If the "would" is in a contrary to fact "if-then" clause then use the past-present construction.

    [So let me try... the three sentences above would approximately be
    "ידעתי שהסופה תוכל להכות אותנו בכל רגע"
    "הוא ידע שהוא יענשה כשיגיע הביתה"
    "לא חשבתי שהוא יגיע, בגלל שהאקס\ית שלו כאן"]
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  3. dukaine Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    English - American
    On that last sentence, the implication is that he did show up; you just didn't think he would. Does the future still apply?
  4. origumi Senior Member

    I would suggest some changes:

    ידעתי שהסופה עשויה/יכולה/עלולה להכות אותנו/בנו בכל רגע
    הוא ידע שייענש אם/כאשר יגיע/יבוא הביתה
    לא חשבתי שיגיע/יופיע, הרי האקסית שלו כאן

    As you can see, there are two questionable things in such translations: present vs. future, certainty vs. doubt. I do not think there's any cookbook for these situations, it's a matter of practice (what sounds "better") and personal taste. Hebrew does not provide the toolset to economically and sharply handle English would/should/could/might.
  5. Stifled Member

    I agree with origumi on his first example, but I think:

    הוא ידע שיענש כשיגיע הביתה or הוא ידע שהוא יענש כשיגיע הביתה

    חשבתי שהוא לא יופיע, בגלל שהאקסית שלו פה or חשבתי שהוא לא יופיע. למה? בגלל שהאקסית שלו פה. Are perfectly fine.

    While this is how people speak, the examples on origumi thread are more suitable in writing or in some kind of formal session. Having said that, your first example, trigel,
    wouldn't grate on a native Israeli's ear.
  6. ystab Senior Member

    Hello all,

    I agree with trigel, and would just like to add one more case of would, the idiom would like, which is translated as אני רוצה (lit. I want), or in a higher or more formal level, ברצוני.

    One more comment regarding trigel's translation for hit. היכה את is used when hit is synonymous with beat. When the meaning is more general or figurative, it is better to use פגע ב־, or היכה ב־, as origumi suggested.
  7. Stifled Member

    Hi dukaine,

    I will give you some examples as I try to shed some light on your query.

    לא ציפיתי שהדברים יסתדרו לך. Pay heed to the fact, that unlike in English, we use both past and future on the same sentence.
    You are most likely to hear Israelis translate it into: I didn't expect things will pan out for you. Because that's the way we think.

    לא ידעתי שאתה עייף. I didn't know you are tired.

    לא האמנתי שהיא תגיד - כן. I didn't believe she will say "yes".

    Take this scenario for example: two guys scheduled to meet each other at a coffee shop at seven. One of them was an hour late, but
    he did show up eventually.

    The one who waited would say gruffly: חשבתי שתהייה פה בשבע, אני מחכה פה כבר שעה.

    While you are forced to follow the original tense in English, you can mix them up in Hebrew.
  8. dukaine Senior Member

    Richmond, VA
    English - American
    I'm getting it. You guys are the best grammar teachers ever!!
  9. airelibre

    airelibre Senior Member

    English - London
    It's somewhat annoying that in English we have to match tenses. For example, "I didn't know you were a policeman" could mean that the person is currently a policeman or once was a policeman. Is it totally fine to say in Hebrew:
    1)לא ידעתי שהיית שוטר
    2)לא ידעתי שתהיה שוטר
    (I didn't know that you would be...)
    3)לא ידעתי שאתה(עובד כ-) שוטר
  10. origumi Senior Member

    If that's the case, the problem seems to be that two tenses are expressed by the same "were". That is, too few (or overlapping) forms, which leave the sentence ambiguous. Maybe "that you have/had been" resolves it? But this is a pure English issue so we better not discuss it here.
  11. Tararam Senior Member

    It does strike me as a solution to the ambiguous state. Though, It doesn't seem natural at all to say something like "I didn't know you've been a policeman" as a stand-alone sentence, without any follow up ("for X years"... or something like that). I'd still use "were" while trusting this so called policeman I'm talking to knows he's no longer a cop.
  12. sawyeric1

    sawyeric1 Senior Member

    Atlanta, GA
    English - American
    How much would that be / cost?
    ?כמה זה יעלה

    Can you say "?כמה זה היה עולה"?
  13. shalom00 Senior Member

    English - US
    You can, although there may be a preference for one or the other due to the context.
    For example, if you are asking about something completely hypothetical, then there may be a preference for "?כמה זה היה עולה".
    E.g., what would it cost me if I were the King of England?
  14. sawyeric1

    sawyeric1 Senior Member

    Atlanta, GA
    English - American
    But if you are saying "would" in terms of a possible real course of action, it should always be the future tense?
  15. shalom00 Senior Member

    English - US
    You could use either, but many prefer the future.

Share This Page