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Example:
If I said I was madly in love with you, you would think I was lying.

Subjunctive. Not about the past. And now the question.

There is a striking contrast here between the development of modern science and the arts. No one would say of a work of music or literature that it was better than an earlier work just because it was later. A recent work by L. Berino is not, because of its modernity, better than Beethoven's Violin Concerto, and it would be just as hard to say that Brahms' Violin Concerto was better than Beethoven's. In contrast to the development of theories in modern science, a later masterpiece in a given artistic style is not therby better then an earlier one, nor does it necessarily attain the aim of the style better, or anything of that sort.

About '
it was better than an earlier work just because it was later.' and 'Brahms' Violin Concerto was better than Beethoven's', are they also the subjunctive, as in the first example? Or is the author talking about the past.

Contextually, to me, it seems to be the same kind of subjunctive mood: the entire paragraph seems to be something about the present.


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Hello Taka

I would parse the emboldenings as follows:


If I said¹ I was² madly in love with you, you would think I was² lying...No one would say of a work of music or literature that it was² better than an earlier work just because it was² later...A recent work by L. Berino is not, because of its modernity, better than Beethoven's Violin Concerto, and it would be just as hard to say that Brahms' Violin Concerto was³ better than Beethoven's.
¹ Effectively subjunctive.

² Past tense, to accord with 'said' and 'would' ('sequence of tenses'). Not subjunctive, as we can't use 'were' instead.

³ doubtful; I would use 'was' myself, and think of it in the same way as the examples of 'was' I've marked with a ²; but some people might say 'were'.

Others might say 'is' instead of 'was' for the three marked in red.

This looks the kind of question that grows a lengthy tail, though, so I look forward to reading other people's opinions!

MrP
Comments  
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
to accord with 'said' and 'would' ('sequence of tenses'). Not subjunctive

Right. I should have said that way.

At least, they are not something about the actual past, right, MrP?
This is not strictly what you are asking, Taka, but there would not be much question about the present tense here:

(which is the way I would want to see it written in the first place)

No one would say of a work of music or literature that it is better than an earlier work just because it is later. A recent work by L. Berino is not, because of its modernity, better than Beethoven's Violin Concerto, and it would be just as hard to say that Brahms' Violin Concerto is better than Beethoven's.


At least, they are not something about the actual past, right, MrP?

I think you're right. I can't detect any true 'pastness'! As Davkett says, we can happily present-tense-ify it.

MrP

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
OK.

Thank you!