+0
If you were sure he (?) come, I would......

this question is about tense usage in subordinate clauses in conditional sentences.

I know we have to change the tense in the main clause into past when we refer to something unreal or something theoretical

what I want to know is the tense in subordinate clauses, not in the main clauses

which tense should I use in the sentence above when I want to refer to something in the future?

1. If you were sure he came, I would......
2. If you were sure he will come, I would...
3. If you were sure he would come, I would...
1 2 3
Comments  (Page 2) 
then using "will" instead of "would" is incorrect?
Yes. I would say that If you were sure he will come, ... is incorrect.
In this situation, should "Jane" say "If he knew that the party would be held tomorrow, I wouldn't attend“?
That sounds fine to me (although I don't know why you bothered with the elaborate set up regarding Max and Jane's relationship to him since you never mention that in the example sentence Emotion: smile )
conclusively, "will" is impossible, isn't it?
It's hard to know which example you're referring to here. Nevertheless, I would say that If he knew that the party will be held tomorrow, ... is incorrect.
His willingness to participate would prove that he's willing to do everything he can to reassure you that he won't cheat again.
he's willing is in the present tense because the writer is saying that he (whoever he is) is now willing. His willingness is a present-time situation.
the usage of "would" here is different than the usage of "would" in conditional sentences?
I would say so, to some extent perhaps. To my ear would prove has the flavor of seems to prove or tends to prove. It's a weaker way of saying proves.

CJ
Thanks. from your last answer, I've found out what I lack. I love "EnglishForward.com"
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
YankeeHi Fandorin

Technically, the word "would" is not actually in the IF-clause. It's simply in the IF half of the sentence.

Maybe looking at these will be helpful:
- He will come. I am sure (about that). --> 2 separate sentences
- I am sure (that) he will come. --> 2 clauses

Now consider a past version of that last sentence:
- I was sure (that) he would come.
Hi, Yankee. Thank you for plain explanations. I understand now.Emotion: smile
CalifJim
FandorinI'm a bit confused about "would" in if-clause. I guess I get it. "would/should" here are modals, aren't they?

can, could, will, would, shall, should, may, might, and must are always modals. But read Yankee's post carefully (partially quoted again below). That's the key.
Technically, the word "would" is not actually in the IF-clause. It's simply in the IF half of the sentence.
CJ

Thank you, CJ.
CalifJimNevertheless, I would say that If he knew that the party will be held tomorrow, ... is incorrect.
Uh-oh! I remember learning it was ok! And I probably learned it from you, lol. Emotion: stick out tongue

Anyway, the fact is that I thought "backshifting" was not absolutely necessary, so I would accept that sentence for the same reason I would accept "If she knew how much I love her" (even though I usually just backshift it and use the past). I think there's a difference between backshifting and not backshifting though: if you don't backshift, you are not talking about something hypothetical.

1) If she knew I loved her, she... --- Strictly speaking, this sentence doesn't necessarily imply I love her. It could also be hypothetical: "If I loved her, and if she knew I loved her, then..." It is usually used as a backshift version of the following though:
2) If she knew how much I love her, she... --- This can only imply you really love her.

That's why I said I would accept sentences like:
If he knew that the party will be held tomorrow...
If he knew the party is gonna be tomorrow, you can/could bet all you have he would call you on your cell 24/7 till it exploded.


Hmm. I am not sure anymore. I don't like the last example. I would just like "If he knew the party was gonna be tomorrow..."
Maybe it's the verb to berequires the backshifting. Maybe the fact that those verbs are too close to "knew" counts too. Or it's likely that the verb "know" forces the backshift more than other verbs, like "tell" for example. Oh my, I am so confused... whatever, I'd better forget about it, lol. Emotion: big smile
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
KooyeenUh-oh! I remember learning it was ok! And I probably learned it from you, lol
I don't recall the post you may be referring to. But in any case, remember what Ralph* said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Emotion: stick out tongue

The difference between knew I love and knew I will ... is enormous to my ear, and I think it's because will is a modal verb.

knew I may, knew I can, knew I will
all strike me as wrong.

knew I might, knew I could, knew I would
all strike me as the corrected versions of those above.

knew that (present tense) is still unusual, however.

CJ

*Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century American writer
CalifJimThe difference between knew I love and knew I will ... is enormous to my ear, and I think it's because will is a modal verb.

knew I may, knew I can, knew I will
all strike me as wrong.
Ah, that makes sense, yes. [Y]
CalifJimknew that (present tense) is still unusual, however.
Just to hear your opinion, what would you say about this?
Stop telling him those secrets! If Betty knew you are telling him everything about Mike, she would freakin' kill you!

I really can't make up my mind whether I like that or not. I think I just backshift the tenses and use the past, but I can imagine someone using the present. So I really don't know... It depends on the way I read it: if I read it in an angry and informal way it sounds acceptable, otherwise it doesn't. But my ears are not reliable. Emotion: smile
KooyeenI really can't make up my mind whether I like that or not.
Join the club!

I hear the present almost as a substitute for the present perfect.

If she knew you've been telling him everything about ..., she would ....

... although that doesn't solve the problem because knew ... (that) have ... has virtually the same tense sequence as the (supposedly) objectionable one. And yet, I find the perfect tense here less awkward.

Then there's the added problem that if ... knew ..., being an if clause, creates a present-time situation (even though with a past tense), so following it up with a present tense doesn't seem really awful. Hence, we have a large variety of combinations, among which:

He knew that I was waiting here.
(OK)
He knew that I'm waiting here. (not very good)
If he knew that I was waiting here, ... would ... (OK)
If he knew that I'm waiting here, ... would ... (not great, but not so bad because it's in an if clause?)
If he knew that I've been waiting here (since this morning), ... would ... (not really objectionable at all to my ear)

I think I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Emotion: smile
CJ
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
CalifJimHe knew that I'm waiting here. (not very good)
Oh, yes, that's not good, but it's not part of a conditional structure. I was just considering conditional structures... I agree that "He knew that..." would require a backshift, probably because that "knew" is a real past tense and that sentence is equivalent to "He knew (at that point in the past) that..."
On the other hand, structures like "If he knew that..." don't have a real past tense, it's just a hypothetical statement, so maybe that's why present tenses can sometimes be acceptable too. Go figure. Emotion: smile
Anyway, thanks for your replies. Emotion: smile
Show more