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Traditional Use of Forms Expressing Unreality



§ 161.The Subjunctive Mood and the form were may be found
in simple sentences. Their use in this case is based on tradition.

The Subjunctive Mood is now only found in a few set phrases
which are a survival of the old use of this mood. New sentences
cannot be formed on this pattern.

a) The Subjunctive Mood serves to express wish in the follow-
ing kinds of sentences.

e.g. Long livethe Queen!
Success attendyou!
Beours a happy meeting!
God blessyou.
Heaven forbid.

Note. We also find may + infinitive in sentences of this kind.

e.g.. May success attend you!

May ours be a happy meeting.


b) The Subjunctive Mood serves to express concessionin the
following sentences which can be treated as set phrases in modern
English.

e.g. So beit. (Да будет так.)

Comewhat will. (Будь, что будет.)
Note. Concession may also be expressed by parenthetic phrases with may and let.

e.g. Happen what may... (Что случится, то случится..., что будет, то будет...)
Be this (that) as it may... (Как бы то ни было...)
Let it be so. {Пусть будет так.)

c) The Subjunctive Mood is found in the expressions Suffice to
say that...
(Достаточно сказать, что...) and Far be it from me...
(Я далек от того, чтобы...).

e.g. Far be it from meto contradict you.

d) The Subjunctive Mood is also used in certain imprecations,
e.g. Manners behanged. (К черту хорошие манеры.)

e) The form were is found in the set phrase as it were (так
сказать, как бы) which is used parenthetically.

e.g. Her portrait had been, as it were,stamped on his heart.
They were silent and, as it were,oppressed.

f) Would + infinitive is found in as luck would have it (пo
счастливому стечению обстоятельств) or as ill luck would have if
(на беду, как на зло).

e.g. As luck would have it, Iwas invited for that night.

The Tense Forms Expressing Unreality
(Summary)

§ 162.As can be seen from the above description, not all the
forms of unreality can express tense distinctions. Thus the Sub-
junctive Mood and the modal phrases should (for all persons) 4- in-
finitive
and would (for all persons) + infinitive have no tense dis-
tinctions. They are used only in certain types of subordinate
clauses and generally show that the action of that clause follows
the action of the principal clause, i.e. they express time relatively-


e.g. I suggest(ed) that he take upthe matter.

It is(was) important that he should acceptthe offer.
I wish(ed)he would agreeto see me.

Since these forms have no tense distinctions the rules of the
sequence of tenses are not observed here.

Tense distinctions are expressed only by the forms of the Con-
ditional Mood (which has two tenses — Present and Past) and also
by the use of the forms of the Past Indefinite and the Past Perfect.

The Present Conditional Mood and the form of the Past Indefi-
nite (also the form were for all persons singular) serve to refer an
action to the present or future when they are used in complex sen-
tences with a clause of condition (or a clause of concession intro-
duced by even if or even though).

e.g. If I hadtime I should go on a short holiday.

If he wereyounger he wouldgo on an expedition again.
Even if he knewabout it he wouldn't tellus.

The Past Conditional Mood and the form of the Past Perfect
serve to refer an action to the past in the same kinds of clauses.

e.g. If I had hadtime I should have goneon a short holiday.

If he had beenyounger he would have goneon an expedition

again.
Even if he had knownit he wouldn't have toldus.

The Present Conditional Mood is used with reference to the
present or future also in simple sentences with implied condition,
while the Past Conditional refers an action to the past.

e.g.It would not bepossible to decide anything without him.

It would not have beenpossible to decide anything without him.

In all those cases the tenses are used absolutely, i.e. they refer
an action directly to the present, past or future

The same is true of the modal verb were to + infinitive which
is used only in (/"-clauses and refers an action of that clause to the
future.

e.g. If everybody were to be brought updifferently, wouldthe
world notchange?

But when all the forms, which in the above described cases ex-
Press time relations absolutely, are used in other subordinate


clauses, they become relative tenses, i.e. they express the time
with regard to the action of the principal clause. The Present
Conditional Mood and the form of the Past Indefinite indicate
that the action of the subordinate clause is simultaneous with
that of the principal clause or follows it.
e.g. They say (said)it would beimpossible to decide anything

without him.
I wish(ed) I knewit.

The Past Conditional Mood and the form of the Past Perfect
show that the action of the subordinate clause precedes that of the
principal clause.

e.g. They say (said)it would have beenimpossible to decide any-
thing without him.
I wish(ed) I had knownit.

Itshould be remembered that the tenses in sentences of unreal
condition are also used relatively in reported speech,
e.g. He says (said)that if he hadtime he wouldgo on a short hol-
iday.
He says (said)that if he had hadtime he would have goneon

a short holiday.

As is seen from the examples, the rules of the sequence of
tenses are not observed with any of the above mentioned forms

expressing unreality.

Things are different, however, with the forms can (may) + in-
finitive
used to express problematic actions. Can is found in
clauses of purpose, may — in clauses of purpose and in object
clauses after expressions of fear in the principal clause.
e.g. On Sundays we always goouting so that the children can

(may) spendthe day in the open air.
I amafraid that he may getangry with me.
The forms can {may) + infinitive are in the Indicative Mood
here, so the rules of the sequence of tenses should be observed,
e.g. On Sundays we always wentouting so that the children could

(might) spendthe day in the open air.
I was afraid that he might getangry with me.





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