Could you please help me?

In a typescript, I heard the following sentence: If you listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

Is this sentence correct relating to conditionals? If so, could please explain it?

I think there is something wrong with it but I'm not sure.

Thank you.  

Original Post
Ahmed Imam Attia posted:

If you listened to last week’s programme, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

Is this sentence correct relating to conditionals? If so, could please explain it?

Hello again, Ahmed Imam Attia,

Not all so-called "mixed conditionals" are incorrect, but this one is. "Would have heard" indicates that the conditional is a counterfactual, and counterfactual conditionals (Type 3) require the past perfect in the "if"-clause:

  • If you had listened to last week's program, you would have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

Another way the sentence could be corrected is to change it to a simple inferential conditional, retaining the simple past in the "if"-clause but changing "would have heard" to the simple past ("heard"):

  • If you listened to last week's program, you heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

That sentence is does not fit into the classical Type 0, 1, 2, 3 mold, but it is a perfectly correct type of conditional. The speaker supposes something which may or may not be true, and draws an inference upon that supposition.

David, I think this one would be correct too, don't you agree?:

  • If you listened to last week's program, you will have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

In this case, "will" expresses deduction, being similar to "must." That is perhaps what the person who wrote that audioscript meant to say, using "would" instead of "will." 

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

David, I think this one would be correct too, don't you agree?:

  • If you listened to last week's program, you will have heard Professor Jeremy Beech answering some of your questions about trees.

In this case, "will" expresses deduction, being similar to "must." That is perhaps what the person who wrote that audioscript meant to say, using "would" instead of "will." 

I like that, Gustavo; and, yes, that sentence would also be correct. Maybe it is what the speaker meant to say. "Would" isn't a good substitute for "will" there, but "will" would have definitely worked. The deductive interpretation is plausible. I think it's also somewhat like "That will be the milkman" or "The reader will have noticed . . . ," even though those aren't used with accompanying "if"-clauses.

Ahmed Imam Attia posted:

Really, I can't understand if the sentence is correct or wrong?

please, in a simple language. Thank you 

Hello again, Ahmed Imam Attia,

Sorry if we confused you. I'll try to keep in mind that you need explanations to be given in simple language. Where I said:

Quote:

Not all so-called "mixed conditionals" are incorrect, but this one is.

I meant that the example you quoted was incorrect. The phrase "this one" refers to the example you gave, and there is an ellipsis of "incorrect" after "is."

Translation:

"Not all so-called 'mixed conditionals' are incorrect, but the example of a mixed conditional that we find in the opening post of this thread is incorrect."

Hi, David,

Ahmed Imam Attia seems to be confused by this explanation he got on another forum:

It is my understanding (and it also seems to be yours) that "would" does not work with a perfect infinitive to express a present statement about the likelihood of a past event. "will" and "may" definitely work to express that meaning. "could" and "might" would work if the probability of that past occurrence were deemed to be more remote, but I don't think "would" would be a good choice. Let's choose a simpler example for Ahmed Imam Attia to follow us:

- If you heard her, you will/must have noticed she was angry. (It is highly probable you noticed that.)

- If you heard her, you may have noticed she was angry. (It is probable you noticed that.)

- If you heard her, you might/could have noticed she was angry. (It is only slightly probable that you noticed that.)

I don't think this works:

? - If you heard her, you would have noticed she was angry.

because "would" cannot be used -- as far as I know -- with a perfect infinitive to express a present deduction about a past event.

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