counterfactual conditionals

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Feb 21 19:20:31 UTC 2000

It seems that "would" is simply taking the place of the subjunctive. In
teaching ESL, I generally use to tell my beginning students to not worry
about learning to use the subjunctive "were" and "had," but to just be
comfortable when it comes up. Here it seems people have kept the
subjunctive, but assigned its function to "would."

Although it seems like it would be just easier to do away with the
subjunctive like many languages do, having a single-word format seems the
next best step.

Benjamin Barrett
gogaku at

------Original Message-----
-Of Arnold Zwicky
-Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 10:55
-in any case, for quite a lot of folks, there is now clearly a
-present (neither future nor past) counterfactual with WOULD, as in
-the following (collected) examples, which i give with a fair amount
-of helpful context:
-  (6) [from a usenet discussion group - i.e. *typed*.  the writer
-       is responding to claims that denigating gay people is
-       not bigotry (because homosexuality is a choice)]
-      If I would choose to consistently denigate, abuse, and
-      otherwise give unreasoned grief to all, say, 7th Day
-      Adventists just because they're 7th Day Adventists,
-        I would *certainly* be a bigot.
-  (7) [from a new york times story]
-      "If your industry would be a lot more competitive,
-        your prices would be a lot lower, your profits would be
-        lower, the value of the shares would go down, and the
-        value of youre shares would go down."

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