A12. The vast majority of our readers appear to be interested in pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, prepositions,
and Sentence Syntax: all are very nice, interesting grammatical topics. However, the "Achilles' heel" in English grammar is the
verb. The English verb is a monster, and only a few are able to master it appropriately. Unfortunately, just a handful of grammar
books trouble to present the English verb to its maximum-maximorum extent--though none comes close to LSEG4.
No book in the entire World [not even any 3 of them taken together!] comes close to the level of details,
of logic, and of clarity, regarding chapter "Verbs", as it is presented in
LSEG4. Truth is, chapter Verbs alone is worth twice the modest price we ask for
LSEG4. Note that sooner or later you are going to
need some good explanations to help you out, about controlling the English verb.
It is difficult to understand the above question because it is clear the author is fairly confused about using
Conditional Complex Sentence. However, nobody is born knowing English grammar; we all have to learn it. Therefore, as long as
people do strive to learn Grammar, any mistakes they make are excused.
Now, during the past 50 years or so, grammar was taught "simplified"; the result today is deep confusion among students and teachers
as well. Particularly, Conditional Complex Sentence was presented as "having 3 forms"! There is no such thing, dear readers.
English grammar is not restrictive; on the contrary, it helps expressing correctly any logic meaning!
The first thing to do, when building a conditional complex sentence, is to
set the meaning in conditional clause. Note that
conditional clause is marked by specific introductory words: "if", "unless", "if only", etc. The second clause
in a conditional complex sentence is the "main clause".
Two scenarios are commonly investigated when building/analyzing Conditional Complex Sentences:
1. the predicate in the conditional clause expresses "real action";
2. the predicate in the conditional clause expresses "unreal action".
Each instance above is regulated by rules; however, the rules governing unreal action are way tougher. English
grammar wants us to express, in meaning, unreal action perfectly clear, without any possibility of mistake/confusion. Therefore,
unreal action is expressed using only "subjunctive verbs" in conditional clause, while in main clause the determined predicate has
to be a verb in a "conditional mood"—this may sound paradoxical, but that's the way things are; the meaning is perfect/complete
using only this specific construction.
The good news is, there are many exceptions to the above rules which help us extend the range of each scenario presented above. In
addition, in LSEG4 are described many
instances of "equivalent-subjunctive constructions" employing modal
defective verbs: this helps expressing more unreal action meanings.
Very important is, Conditional Complex Sentence rules form a category of exceptions to the "Sequence of Tenses". In other words,
Conditional Complex Sentence takes precedence over the Sequence of Tenses. Following is a fragment from LSEG4.
THE “THREE FORMS” CONDITIONAL SIMPLIFICATION
In many grammar books Conditional Complex Sentence is presented as having “three forms”: that is a
superficial “description” of Rule 2, “unreal action in conditional clause”. The “three forms” simplification is based on the two
instances presented in Rule 2, plus Exception 1 presented in Table CS7.2. However, the alarming aspect is the fact that the
“three forms” simplification is explained based on “indicative tenses”, not on the “subjunctive” and “conditional” ones!
Of course, some indicative tenses are identical to the subjunctive/conditional ones, but that is only in “form”, not in
“meaning”, and certainly not in “functionality”. The “three forms” conditional simplification doesn’t work, it doesn’t sound
right, and the meaning makes no sense.
Although it appears to be encouraged in “modern” English grammar books, the “three forms” Conditional Complex Sentence
simplification is a major, serious, grammatical error.
To conclude, based on the meaning explained by the author, the above Conditional Complex Sentence should be:
If I hadn't told my father
that I had found a job, he wouldn't have offered it[sic]
A12.A. The first clause in green is the conditional subordinate: it is used to express "unreal action", therefore
its predicate-verb is set to perfect subjunctive.
Since perfect subjunctive and past perfect indicative have the same form in this instance, the verb in
main clause is analyzed: a conditional verb in main clause requires a subjunctive verb in conditional clause, not an indicative
A12.B. The second clause in red is a direct
object subordinate determining the predicate in conditional clause. In this instance the Sequence of Tenses takes effect, therefore
the verb/predicate in the direct object subordinate is set to past perfect indicative to express/highlight the anteriority of
The tricky aspect is the verb "to find": in past tense indicative form, "to find" has the anteriority
meaning already embedded implicitly! Consequently, the form in past tense indicative can replace past perfect indicative without
A12.C. In blue is the main clause containing the determined predicate in
Conditional Complex Sentence is a very difficult topic for students, teachers, and even for professional
writers/editors. An entire chapter in
LSEG4 is dedicated to presenting Conditional Complex Sentence rules, most
exceptions to the rules, and a few particular constructions; for example, categories of Conditional Complex Sentences in which one clause is missing. In addition, chapter "Verbs"—the largest in
LSEG4; it spans on about 180 (double)
pages!—helps understanding and extending the range of Conditional Complex Sentence.