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Hello

A grammar book of mine (A Communicative Grammar of English, 3rd Edition, Longman, Leech & Svartvik) talks about "putative should" as follows.

[1] I'm surprised that there should be any objection.
[2] I'm surprised that there is an objection
There is a difference between [1] and [2]. In [1], it is the 'very idea' of the objection that surprises me, not the objection as a fact.


I'm quite uncertain what the authors are talking about by saying "the 'very idea' of the objection that surprises". Does they mean the sentence mean "I'm surprised at such an objection"? If so, why not "such an" but "any" is being used here?

paco
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Throwing my 2 cents on the growing pile:

I hear a little more distance in #1 between the speaker and the fact of the objection.

If someone makes an objection to my proposal, and I say #1, I am talking about proposal and objection as something remote and almost hypothetical. If I say #2, it's a more direct response, and directly challenges my interlocutor.

MrP
OK. One more cent.

Does anyone (besides me) see a similarity to this contrast? (In some nameless way, I think it does connect with your observations about distance, Mr. P.)

I'm surprised that anyone objected.
I'm surprised that someone objected.


CJ
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AnonymousI have seen similar putative sentences. "I am suprised that he should feel lonely."(1) "I am suprised that he feels lonely." I don't remember the exact sentences in Quirk's "A Comprehensive English Grammar". I wonder if the first sentence can be written as "I will be suprised that he should feel lonely", since "feel lonely" is not a certain fact. I will be suprised if this is a fact. In the book, the author also compares the first sentence with the conditional sentence "I would be suprised if he would feel lonely".(2) Does the conditional carry the meaning that "feel lonely" is less likely to happen than in (1) in the speaker's opinion? Thanks for your help.
Hello People

I re-read Quirk's description about the putative should. It says:

The modal auxiliary should is used more extensively (esp. in BrE) in that-clauses to convey the notion of a "putative situation", which is recognized as possibility existing or coming into existence. Contrast:
[1.] I'm surprised that he should feel lonely.
[2.] I'm surprised that he feels lonely.
While [1.] questions the loneliness, [2.] accepts it is as true. Here, as often, the difference is mainly one of nuance, since the factual bias of the matrix clause overrides the doubt otherwise implicit in the should-construction. On the other hand, the non-factuality is clearer in these examples.
[3.] I prefer that she should drive.
[4.] They've arranged that I should absent myself for part of the committee meeting.

The non-factual bias of the should-construction merges most clearly in instances where the construction is close in meaning to a conditional if-clause:
[5.] It's a pity that they should be so obstinate.
[6.] It's a pity if they are so obstinate.

In a future stage of remoteness, the conditional clauses has putative should:
[7.] It's a pity if they should be so obstinate.
(It would be a pity if they turned out to be so obstinate)

Putative should is used in that-clauses when the matrix clauses contain verbs, adjectives, or nouns that convey an emotional reaction or that express a necessity, plan, or intention for the future. In the latter case, a that-clause with should frequently replaceable by an infinitival clause:
[8.] I prefer her to drive.
[9.] They've arranged for me to absent myself for part of the committee meeting.


paco
Thank you for your opinions. May I continue my question.

1] I'm surprised that there should be any objection.
[2] I'm surprised that there is an objection


I wonder in (1),whether "an objection" is a fact that has already occured and the speaker knows someone has raised an objection, or "an objection" may be or may not be an fact, the speaker doesn't know and he is giving his opinion on the idea of "an objection". Whether there is an objection or there will be an objection is not important.

I know in (2) an objection has been raised. It is a fact and the speaker is surprised. Thanks a lot.
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Hello Anon

Thank you. I feel my original question has been completely answered by you.

paco
I find it difficult to read the first sentence in that sense, Anon: to my mind, it can only mean that there has been an objection.

MrP
I have to agree with Mr. P. The first sentence, to me, (as well as the second) implies that there has been an objection.

CJ
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Thank you for your opinions. May I continue my question.

1] I'm surprised that there should be any objection.
[2] I'm surprised that there is an objection


A. I wonder in (1),whether "an objection" is a fact that has already occured and the speaker knows someone has raised an objection, or "an objection" may be or may not be an fact, the speaker doesn't know and he is giving his opinion on the idea of "an objection". Whether there is an objection or there will be an objection is not important.

I know in (2) an objection has been raised. It is a fact and the speaker is surprised. Thanks a lot.

Mr.P wrote

I find it difficult to read the first sentence in that sense, Anon: to my mind, it can only mean that there has been an objection.

Sorry, my poor English is misleading. In A, I was swinging between two interpretations, the first, there has been an objection, and the speaker says his opinion; the second, the speakere doesn't know if there is an objection or not, he thinks there should not be an objection. Now you confirmed the first interpretation.

But in the sentence "He insisted that I should leave as early as possible", the speaker expresses his opinion, whether the action "leave as early as possible" will become factual is not concerned in the sentence. I'd like to hear from you. Thanks a lot.
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