8.1.2. The past subjunctive mood
The past subjunctive mood includes the letters of "past" itself, but it does not express the past. It expresses the present event but this is unreal, that is , it is certain that it does not occur.
This mood uses the past tense and it often co-occurs with the if clause. See the following examples.
a. If I were not ill, I could finish this today.
b. If I could skate as well as you do, I would be really happy.
c. If he were the boss, he would not dismiss us. (*31)
(4a) means the speaker can not finish it, (4b) means s/he is not good at it and (4c) means s/he is fired. See the following figure.
It is the exceptional representation since it express unreal. In view of the form, it is parallel to (5a), but in view of the meaning, it is parallel to (5b).
This form means the present unreal event, therefore, the three points are put at the present which is the same as the present tense. In addition to this, (M) and (E) are put at the past, these are temporary points derived from the speaker's mind. These means the remote feeling, thus, although the meaning is the present, the speaker uses the past tense. The next example is the same.
If we caught the 7 o'clock train, we could get there by 10.
It means the speaker can not catch it and can not get there by 10.
Now, the above has the other meaning, this is the supposition like the polite suggestion and request, the advice. In the case of this it means "to get there by 10, you should catch it."
This does not mean unreal, but means polite. It is derived from the remote feeling. See the following examples.
a. I would appreciate it if you would mail this letter for me.
b. If I were you, I would wait a bit.
(7a) means the polite request and (7b) means the polite advice.
|Copyright (c) EnglishCafe : Unapproved printing of the text and figure in this site is forbidden.|