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An indirect narration.

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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An indirect narration.

Postby pdh0224 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 2:10 am

Dear teacher,

Dr. Armstrong said the illegal trade in Russia may be so great that there might not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch was counted accurately.

Q : There is an indirect narration sentence. If it is changed into a direct narration sentence, What can replace "may"?

Dr. Armstrong said that "the illegal trade in Russia may :?: be so great that there may not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch is counted accurately."



All the best, :)
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 02, 2004 4:09 am

It would be 'may', which, strictly speaking, ought to have become 'might' in the reported version. Sometimes, however, tense concord rules are overlooked if there is felt to be a risk of ambiguity (as here, where 'might' could possibly have been misinterpreted as a conditional form, as in He might be nicer to you if you if you were more polite to him.).
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Postby pdh0224 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 5:14 am

Alan wrote:It would be 'may', which, strictly speaking, ought to have become 'might' in the reported version. Sometimes, however, tense concord rules are overlooked if there is felt to be a risk of ambiguity (as here, where 'might' could possibly have been misinterpreted as a conditional form, as in He might be nicer to you if you if you were more polite to him.).


You mean it is grammatically right that "Dr. Armstrong said the illegal trade in Russia might be so great that there might not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch was counted accurately." ( Or Dr. Armstrong said "the illegal trade in Russia may be so great that there may not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch is counted accurately.")

"might" is replaced with "may" because it makes readers wrongly consider the sentence "the illegal trade in Russia might be so great..." as a conditional form. Right?


p.s) Is ".... to you if you if you were more.." your mistake isn't it?
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Postby Alan » Thu Sep 02, 2004 7:31 am

You mean it is grammatically ... counted accurately."
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His original wording (may) should, strictly speaking, have been changed to 'might' in the reported sentence, but was kept in its original form.
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"might" is replaced with "may" because it makes readers wrongly consider the sentence "the illegal trade in Russia might be so great..." as a conditional form. Right?

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It doesn't necessarily, but it might! It is the perception of the possibility of ambiguity on the part of the writer that affects the choice.

(In actual fact, though, the risk of that ambiguity here is extremely slight. )

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p.s) Is ".... to you if you if you were more.." your mistake isn't it?
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Yes, sorry - Delete one 'if you'!
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Postby pdh0224 » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:52 am

Sometimes, however, tense concord rules are overlooked if there is felt to be a risk of ambiguity (as here, where 'might' could possibly have been misinterpreted as a conditional form, as in He might be nicer to you if you if you were more polite to him.).

***********************************************

If "may" is replaced with "might" in the sentence, how could it make readers wrongly consider the clause as a conditional form?
That is, for example, "if he might be nicer to you, it is surprising." It is good example for "might" using in a conditional sentence because "might" is in if-clause. However, The example you mentioned is not an occasion of "might" in a conditional form. Do I misinterpret your explaining?
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Postby Alan » Fri Sep 03, 2004 4:58 am

Conditional-mood clauses (with 'would, might, could' etc.) can have conditions which are not explicit but simply inferred from context.

An overly swift reading of the text might conceivably, perhaps depending also to an extent on the reader's own background knowledge/assumptions etc. relating to the situation described in the article, lead to this kind of misinterpretation.
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Postby pdh0224 » Fri Sep 03, 2004 7:24 am

Dr. Armstrong said the illegal trade in Russia may be so great that there might not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch was counted accurately.

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How about the subordinate clause? Does the function and meaning of "might" in the sentence match the readers' thought that the clause is a conditional form? Can I consider the subordinate clause " that there might not be any legal quotas issued in the foreseeable future if the total catch was counted accurately." as a conditional form?
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Postby Alan » Sat Sep 04, 2004 5:09 am

As said, it all depends on a combination of context and writer's beliefs concerning the reader's expectations, etc. making it much too complex and unpredictable a matter to give any simple answer.

For learners' purposes, regardless of such issues, I would advise always to follow tense-shift rules.
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