English Grammar


Correct or incorrect answer ?

Hi everyone!


Why did GymGlish consider the following expression as incorrect: « She wouldn't get this far if she didn't speak fluent Spanish » ?


From my point of view, this is the second conditional … so, it is grammatically correct.


GymGlish proposed instead: « She wouldn't have gotten this far if she didn't speak fluent Spanish ».


Thank you for your help,
Delia.

3 comments

  • Hi Delia,


    This a subtle thing, and I hope I can explain it intelligible.


    You're perfectly right when you say that the rule for an if-clause of this sort is: 'If she (past tense), she (would + verb)'. That is absolutely right in most cases, for example in: 'If I didn't speak English, I wouldn't get very far in life.'"


    But in this case, the speciality is that we want to express what she has already accomplished. Instead of predicting into the future how far she can get, we look at how far she has already gotten. From the if-clause point of view, the rule is the same, with the difference that we have to express the conditional part in the past form:


    'She wouldn't have gotten this far' is the past form of 'She wouldn't get far'.


    Hence: 'If the she didn't speak fluent Spanish, she wouldn't have gotten this far.' is perfectly correct and even abide the rule for the 2. if-clause , which is 'If she (past tense) , she (conditional)'.


    You can of course say: 'If she didn't speak fluent Spanish, she wouldn't get far'. But then you should bear in mind that this has a different meaning, that is, you predict into future instead of assessing what she has already accomplished.


    I hope I epxlained it helpfully.
    Cordially
    Whacky
  • Thank you Whacky for your answer .. the subtlety of some English constructions is not always easy to understand.


    According to your explanation, the choice of using " wouldn't have gotten " instead of " wouldn't get" is a question of time ... past time (accomplished action) versus present or future. Now, I understand that and it seems logical.


    However, why not using the third conditional to express past events, i.e. "If she hadn't spoken fluent Spanish, she wouldn't have gotten this far" ?


    Delia.
  • Hi everyone!


    Why did GymGlish consider the following expression as incorrect: « She wouldn't get this far if she didn't speak fluent Spanish » ?


    From my point of view, this is the second conditional … so, it is grammatically correct.


    GymGlish proposed instead: « She wouldn't have gotten this far if she didn't speak fluent Spanish ».


    Thank you for your help,
    Delia.

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