If not/Unless

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Audiendus
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If not/Unless

Postby Audiendus » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:00 pm

Consider the following sentences:

(1) I will go out tomorrow if it is not cold.
(2) I will go out tomorrow unless it is cold.

(3) I would go out now if it were not cold.
(4) I would go out now unless it were cold.

We can replace (1) with (2) without changing the meaning, but we cannot replace (3) with (4). Why? How would you explain the difference, in grammatical terms, to someone learning English?

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Slava
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Re: If not/Unless

Postby Slava » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:18 pm

My take is that 4 is not a valid sentence. It feels like it's trying to be a counterfactual subjunctive, but something is off.
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ssamsamm
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Re: If not/Unless

Postby ssamsamm » Tue Mar 09, 2021 9:17 am

My take is that 4 is not a valid sentence. It feels like it's trying to be a counterfactual subjunctive, but something is off.
agreed
never heard of the 4 variant of pronunciation before
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Slava
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Re: If not/Unless

Postby Slava » Tue Mar 09, 2021 12:31 pm

Greetings and Welcome to the Agora, Ssamsamm.

That #4 sure is off. The more I look at it, the less sense it makes.
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

Audiendus
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Re: If not/Unless

Postby Audiendus » Wed Mar 10, 2021 12:43 am

#4 is definitely off, but can we establish exactly why? What do you think about #5/6?

(4) I would go out now unless it were cold.

(5) I would help you now if you did not object.
(6) I would help you now unless you objected.

What if we omit the 'now'?

I wonder if this is a semantic rather than a grammatical problem. In the context of (4), I know it is cold.

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Slava
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Re: If not/Unless

Postby Slava » Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:31 pm

4's verbs don't match. "I would go out now, unless it is cold" makes sense, especially if there's a way to make the would stressed.

5 means the offer has been made and been objected to. It could just as well be, "I would help you, if you had not objected."

6 suffers from the same affliction as 4. Make it "I would help you now, unless you object" and it works. Otherwise, the verb tenses are in conflict.

I don't think the now is necessary, or plays any role.

That, at least, is my take. Any writers or grammar nerds out there?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.


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