Dear Teacher,

Would you please tell me if the alternatives I propose can be acceptable in the following exercises ?

I/ Mr Jeffries, I have decided against a prison sentence in your case. You may walk free from this court 1) ONLY IF you report to Chesham police every Friday for the next six months. 2) a) SHOULD / b) IF you fail to do so, you will be given one warning; and if you persist in failing to meet this obligation, you will return to this court for a harsher sentence. Unless you present good reason why you 3) a) WERE / b) ARE (?) unable to report to the station, you will find yourself in severe trouble. 4) a) IF / b) IN CASE / c) WHEN you are unable to attend because of illness, please note that a medical certificate must be produced, signed by your doctor, proving your state of health. You 5) a) SHOULD REALISE / b) MUST REALISE / c) HAVE TO REALISE (?) that but for your previous good conduct, I would have no hesitation in imposing a prison sentence.

II/ Sentence transformations:

1) Tom to his mother: ‘Please let me go to Sheila’s party next Saturday.’
a) Tom asked his mother if she would let him go to Sheila’s party the following week.
b) Tom asked his mother to let him go to Sheila’s party… (CORRECT ? Same meaning ?)

2) Andrew: “I suggest you cancel all your engagements for today.”
a) Andrew suggested that I / he (should) cancel all my / his arrangements for that day.
b) Andrew suggested that I / he CANCELLED all his arrangements for that day. (WRONG ?)

Many thanks,
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Dear MrP,

I'm really ashamed of myself because despite all your expanations I don't understand why "IN CASE" and "SUPPOSING THAT" do not work or are not really appropriate in 2); 3) and 6). Would you please explain there use to me again ?Emotion: embarrassed

Best regards,
That's ok! I'll give it some more thought and reply tomorrow (my head is a little unclear at the moment).

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Dear MrP,

Have you forgotten me? I would really appreciated if you told me why "in case, supposing that, and if" are not always interchangeable. In what circumstances must "in case" and "supposing that" be used?

Sorry to bother you again, and thank you for your patience.
Sorry, Hela!!

'In case' has a precautionary sense: it means 'lest', or 'in fear that':

1. Take your umbrella, in case it rains = take your umbrella, lest it rain.
2. Take your mobile, in case you get lost.

'Supposing that' has a sense of 'presuming that' or 'imagine that':

3. Supposing (that) you pass your exams, what will you do?
4. Supposing he doesn't come, what will you do?

Both usually have a slightly 'kindly' or 'concerned' air. That's why they wouldn't work in a judicial context.

'If' can't be substituted for 'in case', but it can be used instead of 'supposing that'.

Does that help?

Let me know if not!

Dear MrP,

Do you mean that "if" can never replace "in case" because "in case" introduces 2 alternatives ?

e.g. when we say "in case it rains", does it mean that whether it rains (can I say "whether it will rain ?) or not I will take my umbrella?

And when we say "if it rains", does it introduce only one possibility that is "I will take my umbrella only if it rains" ?
Is this why in my exercise we cannot use "in case" in 2), 3) and 6) ?

As for "supposing that" you wouldn't choose it in this particular exercise because of the formality of the context or is it also because it introduces a contrast / opposition that doesn't exist in the sentences in question ?

Kind regards,
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Hello Hela

'In case' always has a precautionary implication: whatever follows 'in case' is the event against which the precaution must be taken.

I would not view it as a question of alternatives: I would rather say that you use 'in case' when you want to communicate that sense of an event which may require precautions:

I don't know if this will make it too complicated; but here's how I see the difference:

1. If it rains, I'll get wet = if A, then B.

2. I'll take my umbrella, in case it rains = if I take my umbrella, then if it rains, I won't get wet.

i.e. If X, then if A, then not B.

'Supposing that', in your examples, is 'odd' or 'inappropriate', rather than 'incorrect'. When you say to someone, 'supposing that...', you are saying 'imagine that...' So you're treating them as a person whose suppositions matter. That's why I say it has a slightly 'friendly' air.

In a courtroom, however, the magistrate is giving an instruction: if X happens, do Y. He retains control of the imaginary sphere: the suppositions of the person on bail are of no importance.

Is that any clearer? We can go through some more examples, if it's still baffling!

Hello again Hela
...If ever you read my translation into English of the article from "Le Monde",...which mark would you give me?...

I wouldn't get very many marks, if anyone were to mark my marking...But here are my (BrE-ish) comments instead!

First I've given the original sentence; then your translation in bold; then a very loose translation in inverted commas, which attempts to convey the meaning, rather than the exact words.

Il n’y a pas très longtemps, on encourageait les consommateurs des pays industrialisés à acheter et même à gaspiller de plus en plus de biens,

Not so long ago, consumers in industrialized countries were encouraged not only to buy but even to waste more and more goods.

Grammatically fine; but a) ‘were encouraged’ suggests a particular incident b) ‘not only…but also’ can sound a little stiff. Here’s a more BrE-newspapery version:

“It isn’t so very long since consumers in industrialized countries were being encouraged not just to buy more and more goods, but to waste them too.”

But ‘goods’ is an awkward word to use convincingly; and ‘more and more goods’ sounds odd. So you could trim it a little:

“It isn’t long since consumers in industrialized countries were being encouraged not just to buy more, but to waste more too.”
«Plus on jette à la poubelle, plus on prospère » étant le slogan qui avait alors cours.

“The more we waste, the more we prosper” was the prevailing slogan then / was the slogan which was prevailing then.

Grammatically fine. The slogan itself is ok, but the ‘prevailing’ clause is a little weak – probably because of the ‘then’.

“’The more we waste, the more we prosper’ was the prevailing mantra.”
Pendant ce temps, dans les pays en voie de développement, une grande partie de la population était sous-alimentée.

In the meantime, in developing countries, a large part of the population was underfed.

Grammatically fine; but ‘underfed’ isn’t usually used in this context.

“Meanwhile, in developing countries, large numbers of people were suffering from malnutrition.”
Des spécialistes de l’Institut de Technologies du Massachusetts et puis le Club de Rome ont mis en garde le monde industriel contre la croissance illimitée;

Specialists of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Club of Rome (?) warned the industrial world against the unlimited growth,

‘of’ > ‘at’; no article before ‘unlimited’.

“Experts at the MIT and the Club of Rome warned the industrialized world against the dangers of unlimited growth,”
mais la devise: « Ce qui est petit est beau » n’a pas vraiment convaincu, et des hommes et des femmes qui mangent trop continuent à prodiguer temps et argent pour essayer de garder la ligne.

but the credo which says “What is small is beautiful” was not really convincing and men and women who eat too much keep on spending time and money trying to remain slim.

Grammatically fine, but ‘keep on’ isn’t quite right.

“but no one was willing to believe that ‘small’ really was ‘beautiful’. As a result, men and women continue to waste time and money on trying to stay slim; when the simple fact of the matter is, they eat too much.”
Certains sont prêts à donner une aide en argent, denrées alimentaires et conseillers techniques, quand, de temps à autre, les médias leur rappellent que des dizaines de gens meurent de faim tous les jours.

Some are ready to send financial aid, food and technical advisors when, now and then, the media remind them that several people die every day of hunger.

Grammatically fine; but the tense in the last clause isn’t quite right, and ‘several’ isn’t strong enough:

“Some are prepared to send aid in the form of money, food, and technical advice, when the media periodically reminds them that hundreds of people are dying every day from hunger.”

(Or 'malnutrition'.)
Peut-être faut-il de l’imagination pour aborder ce problème et le résoudre. Puisque les terres agricoles fertiles sont rares, il dépend de nous de les gérer avec soin.

… of imagination (is there a partitive that can be used with “imagination” here ? Something like “a touch of” = un brin d’imagination) might be needed to deal with then / and solve that problem. Given that / Since fertile / productive farms are rare, it is up to us to manage them with care.

“If we are to grapple with this problem and resolve it, we need to use a little more imagination. Productive agricultural land is rare. It’s up to us to manage it more carefully.”

See you!


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