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would have/had

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would have/had

Postby Enigma » Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:51 am

1. I left home early to make sure I had extra time in case I got lost.

2. I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I would get lost.


3. I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I got lost.


Which are acceptable? Do you think they differ in meaning?


I know that 2 is wrong. 'in case' should never be followed by 'would.' Incidentally, 'in this case' can be followed by 'should' to show extreme unlikelihood.
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Postby Slava » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:21 pm

I vote for #1. It feels natural. As you say, #2 is wrong, so that's obviously out. I'd say #3 is most likely technically correct, but it's awkward.

I do think I'd put a comma, semi-colon, or even a period, in after "time" in #1, though. My gut feeling is that there should be a pause there.
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Postby sluggo » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:44 pm

Seems to me it's dependent on the phrase "in case". With that in there, #1 works. If in case was replaced with a simple if, then #3 works best, and the whole sentence flows better:

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time if I got lost.

-but either one denotes a conditional. Using both In case and would have seems redundant.
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Postby saparris » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:24 pm

I left home early....


What about this one?

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I were to get lost.

The uncertainty of getting lost seems to call for the subjunctive. Sounds stuffier, but the meaning is certainly clear.
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Postby Slava » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:48 pm

Though the contexts have nothing in common, this calls to mind a line from the movie "White Christmas."

"Pushing, pushing, pushing."

Aren't people here trying to find the most outlandish, but still "grammatically correct", phrasings? It may well be "correct," but would anyone anywhere anytime ever say it? I doubt it.

Mightn't this make it not really correct?
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Postby saparris » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:34 pm

It's not outlandish. Stilted? Yes, but also correct.

If we're looking to rewrite for clarity, all of the sentences could use some help.
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Postby sluggo » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:09 am

saparris wrote:
I left home early....


What about this one?

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I were to get lost.

The uncertainty of getting lost seems to call for the subjunctive. Sounds stuffier, but the meaning is certainly clear.


I agree that this is the clearest version yet. The more clear (read: correct) we get, the less we leave for the "understood" context such as in ...if I got lost, which I guess is technically past tense and literally by itself means "if I actually historically got lost some time in the past". But in the example, the subjunctive quality is conveyed by the context.

And conversely, the more we leave the context to convey, the more relaxed the correctness can get. It all depends on who one is addressing and what impression the speaker wishes to impress upon them.
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Postby Audiendus » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:37 pm

saparris wrote:What about this one?

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I were to get lost.

The uncertainty of getting lost seems to call for the subjunctive. Sounds stuffier, but the meaning is certainly clear.

But surely "I got" is already subjunctive here. "I got" can be the past subjunctive, as well as the past indicative, of "get".
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Postby saparris » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:12 pm

But surely "I got" is already subjunctive here. "I got" can be the past subjunctive, as well as the past indicative, of "get".


Yes, I got is past subjunctive, and I was tempted simply to vote for number 3. Instead, I threw out an option (which I might write but wouldn't use in conversation).
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Postby Enigma » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:27 am

Thanks for your posts, guys.

It is an interesting sentence, with much debate over how it should be written. You could argue the first reads best and is also technically correct, due to the simplification of tenses.

But then you could also argue that the simplfication of tenses here hides the subjunctive nature of the text.

I vote for 3 or

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I should get/were to get lost.

I'm not sure I'd call either of these subjunctive though.
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Postby Enigma » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:32 am

sluggo wrote:Seems to me it's dependent on the phrase "in case". With that in there, #1 works. If in case was replaced with a simple if, then #3 works best, and the whole sentence flows better:

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time if I got lost.

-but either one denotes a conditional. Using both In case and would have seems redundant.


I don't understand how you see it being redundant. Think of it as a conditional sentence (essentially it is). In a conditional sentence, you have both an if/in case clause and a result clause, with 'woud + bare infinitive' in the second conditional and 'would have' in the third conditional. We are dealing with the second conditional here as you know.
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Postby Enigma » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:35 am

Audiendus wrote:
saparris wrote:What about this one?

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I were to get lost.

The uncertainty of getting lost seems to call for the subjunctive. Sounds stuffier, but the meaning is certainly clear.

But surely "I got" is already subjunctive here. "I got" can be the past subjunctive, as well as the past indicative, of "get".


Yes, it is the past subjunctive, which is required in the second conditional (past perfect subjunctive for third conditional). Sap's example is just an alternative construction--which is still the subjunctive, but which stresses the unlikelynature of the situation. Both 'should' and 'were to' are used for this.
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Postby saparris » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:21 am

I left home early to make sure I would have extra time in case I were to get lost.


If I had owned a GPS, I would have had more time to study the subjunctive, the understanding of which would have led to peace among all nations, ample food supplies throughout the civilized world, and the end of global warming.
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Postby Audiendus » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:52 am

Enigma wrote:Sap's example is just an alternative construction--which is still the subjunctive, but which stresses the unlikely nature of the situation. Both 'should' and 'were to' are used for this.

OK, but "I should get lost" or "I were to get lost" make the sentence sound very wordy, even in writing. I much prefer "I got", which is clear, concise and gramatically correct. (And maybe getting lost wasn't so unlikely!)

Sluggo's point (with which I agree) was that "I had extra time" is justified as past indicative if we say "in case" rather than "if". In other words, I left home early to ensure that I did (in fact) have some spare time; I would be able to use this in the event of my getting lost. If "I had" is indicative, then "in case" is not a conditional; it is equivalent to something like "for the eventuality that". "Got" would still be past subjunctive.
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Postby saparris » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:00 am

If "I had" is indicative, then "in case" is not a conditional; it is equivalent to something like "for the eventuality that".


I agree. It's just that I always get lost.

For those who don't, what's the best sentence?
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