Forums · General English Grammar & Vocabulary, Listening & Speaking · General English Grammar Questions
(Fact: Jeans is Jason's sister and she is talking with on of her friends.)
Jeans: If I were a man and if I were in Jason' s situation where my wife is(was???) leaving me for another man, I sure would break down. However, in the case of divorce, the children is always the primary concern of the presents so if I were Jason, I think(thought???) I will(would???) take my children to Disney Land, the place they always dream(dreamed???) of going but I simply didn't have(hadn't had???) time to take them to, to make them more fond of me in case the divorce case that I have(had???) now ends(ended???) up with the result of letting the children choose who they want(wanted) to follow. Furthermore, I will(would) call my banker now to calculate my total fortune so I can(could???) know how much money I will(would???) still have after the divorce to support my children education. I sure would do that if I were Joson because no matter what bad things happen in your life, life goes on and I sure wouldn't be like Jason now sitting there like a vegetable and do nothing.
The answer Mr. Wheeler gave me was that the present tense presented in the above sentence doesn't have to be changed in to past tense except that all the 'will' have to be changed to 'would' to make them sound more natural to native speaker. And he said that more English speakers tend to use the subjunctive more than others, which I think is true.
After viewing his answer, I am able to come out two conclusions as follow:
1) When a person is trying to make a long subjunctive assumption like the one shown above, the 'were' and the 'would' must be kept unchange for the following sentence 'If I were you, I would'. After that, we can use whatever tenses we like, present tense or past tense, to make up the rest of what we want to say.
2) The second thing we have to be aware of is to change the 'will' to 'would' whenever we make a subjunctive assumption like the answer that Mr. Wheeler gave me.
Is my conclusion correct? I really need more advice on this issue because I really can't sure what tenses I should stick to whenever I try to make a subjunctive statement.
'If I were a man, and if I were in Jason's situation where my wife is/was leaving me for another man, I would break down. However, in the case of divorce, the children are always the primary concern of the parents. If I were Jason, I think I would take my children to Disneyland, the place they have always dreamt of going to, but where I simply haven't had the time to take them, in order to make them more fond of me in case the divorce case that I am involved in now ends up letting the children choose whom they want to follow. Furthermore, I would call my banker now to calculate my total fortune so I could find out how much money I still had / would still have after the divorce to support my children's education. I sure would do that if I were Jason, because no matter what bad things happen in your life; life goes on, and I sure wouldn't be like Jason now, sitting there like a vegetable and doing nothing. '
Well, that's a little better anyway. In this kind of rambling, uncomposed oral monologue, the native speaker does not plan and organize his grammar-- what s/he says comes out in a linear fashion, much affected by what the speaker is trying to say. My take on the problem of consistency here, is that most of it would stay with the hypothetical conditional, but that the long-winded middle section (the italicized parts) would 'drift', as it were, into the more immediate tenses as the speaker becomes involved in the intricacies of their projected reality. The fact of the matter is that this kind of English-- spoken, spontaneous-- will never be grammatical, and your concerns about consistency should be reserved for written, composed styles.
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