will or would

Jim   Thursday, May 08, 2003, 07:55 GMT
Hey Simon,

I just had to go and be the smarty panty in the family again and look "misprint" up in the dictionary*. Can you guess what it said?

"misprint noun [C]
a mistake, such as a word that is spelled wrong, in a printed text:"

I noticed how there was no mention of computers. In fact I noticed how there was no mention of who or what was to blame at all. Then I thought to myself "Can people print?" and I thought "I suppose so." Then I thought "If people can print then can't they misprint?" and I thought "I suppose they could." Then I looked "print" up, just to be sure and here's what I found.

"print (WRITE) verb [I][T]
to write without joining the letters together:"

Then I wondered "Was Arthur really apportioning blame on a poor innocent inanimate object when he wrote 'There was a silly misprint in my previous post,'?" and I thought "He may well not have been." So I though "Was Simon being unduly harsh on poor Arthur?" and I concluded "Perhaps."

* I'm using the good old Cambridge Dictionary here.
Simon   Thursday, May 08, 2003, 08:10 GMT
Jim, if you're not already a lawyer, you should become one.
Tom   Thursday, May 08, 2003, 13:49 GMT
"He knew one day he would be rich." is certainly not a conditional sentence. The "would" is called "future in the past".

Jim -- I'm sorry, but I don't consider it important to be "grammatically correct". In fact, I'm pretty sure that if one investigated the notion of "grammatical correctness", it would reveal itself to be extremely blurry.

In my opinion, grammatical correctness does not exist. Here's what exists:
- the language people use
- rules in grammar books, created by grammarians (each grammar book contains different rules, reflecting the personal preferences of the grammarian who wrote it)

I have no problem with "He said he'll be back in 5 minutes". However, I'd personally use "would" in most cases, just to humor those who for some reason think it's "incorrect".
The same goes for "If I was/were taking a test". Personally, I prefer "was", but I often use "were" nonetheless -- just because some people are anal about the subjunctive.
Tom   Thursday, May 08, 2003, 13:53 GMT
I noticed you wrote in one of the earlier messages that something was correct in a "strict grammatical sense". This gives the impression that there exists a body of strict grammatical rules. However, it is my contention that no such body exists -- in fact, "grammatical correctness" is an exceedingly blurry concept, and arguably, a meaningless one.
Jim   Thursday, May 08, 2003, 23:45 GMT
Perhaps I should become a lawyer but would I win against someone like Tom?

I see where you're coming from, Tom, and I think you've got a very good point. It's the old descriptive verses prescriptive debate. Where else can these so-called grammatical rules come from but the language people use? But does that mean anything you say would be correct?

I'll keep in mind the fact that I can't get away with writing things like "strict grammatical sense" in future. Maybe it would been better to have written something like "In these sentences 'would' rather than 'will' and 'were' rather than 'was' is prefered by people who are anal about the exceedingly blurry and arguably meaningless concept grammatical correctness."
Jim   Friday, May 09, 2003, 00:44 GMT
I meant "... would have been better ..."
Simon   Friday, May 09, 2003, 07:01 GMT
Maybe it's like writing a novel. There are many different ways to write a novel but that doesn't mean you can just write anything.
Jim   Friday, May 09, 2003, 07:24 GMT
Whie nots? If mee wonts rite djust whotseva mee wonts, whie nots? Whie kants mee rite meselfs hou mee wontsa? Garn, lets mee bee ritin houseva mee wontsa. If mee wontsa goe ritin a hole novel aliken dhis, hooz abowtta stop mee?
Simon   Friday, May 09, 2003, 07:57 GMT
It worked for James Joyce with Finnegan's Wake, so why not.
Adam   Friday, May 09, 2003, 12:54 GMT
Originally posted by Jim:-

BTW, talking about your example "You WOULD marry me IF i was prettier."
Don't you think it would sound better with "were" instead of "was"?

You can say either "You would marry me if i WAS prettier"
or "You would marry me if i WERE prettier."
Tom   Friday, May 09, 2003, 22:11 GMT
Jim-- Thanks for agreeing with me! I appreciate it, especially that agreement is not something you see very often in discussion forums. :-)
Jim   Monday, May 12, 2003, 00:35 GMT

You can use either "was" or "were". I admit that but there are people who could be described as "anal about the subjunctive" who would insist on using only "were". I wouldn't count myself as one of them as such. Though I'd always use "were", I don't mean to call you wrong if you use "was".
Arthur   Monday, May 12, 2003, 20:21 GMT
> The tough question of what's passable and what's correct.
I'm sorry it seems I'm not a kind person who like to ask easy questions. Well I knew that the question is tough, so I did not expect to receive a simple unequivocal answer but some information for my thoughts. Actually I've received even more than can expect. Thank you.

> However, to be fair to Tom there was no jumping to conclusions on his part
> he was just following the rules of indirect speech.
It seems to me that his conclusion in the post "Sunday, April 27, 2003, 10:08 GMT" does not represent the rules of indirect speech. And in my opinion this conclusion is incorrect whether you are worried about grammar rules or not. I mean the words "to tell you" does not really matter there.

> "He has said he will be here in 5 minutes." isn't present time in mind of the speaker
> because he said it in the past.
I'm not sure that I've understood you here. I know that "he has said" is the present perfect tense, and "he said" is the paste tense. And as far as I know the present perfect implies present time in mind of the speaker. So I suspect "He has said he will be here in 5 minute" is gramatically correct.

Of course I meant to say a "typo". Actually I was wrong to believe there's no difference between words "typo" and "misprint". Now I see they are not exactly same. Thanks for the tip.