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Profile: Mikhail
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User Name: Mikhail
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Joined: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Last Visit: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 4:25:04 PM
Number of Posts: 102
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  Last 10 Posts
Topic: "There to be" in relative clauses
Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:36:12 PM
Thank you, thar and Drsg0nspeaker, for your replies! There's a lot to discuss - so much I don't even know what to begin with))

1)
Quote:
...most "native speakers" usually avoid the simple "which there aren't (full stop)" in the predicate by using a synonym like "which don't exist", "which have no real existence".


Yes, that's an easy option, but I wonder if it would make the utterance sound rather formal?

2) What interests me the most is that "there to be" doesn't work equally well in all possible constructions, and its behaviour in relative clauses demonstrates just a little portion of its peculiarities, I think.

Locative inversion, for instance, is often found in fiction, whereas most of those ideas, I think, would be expressed by means of "there to be" in conversational English. Taking into account that langage phenomena evolve gradually and don't show symmetry, so to speak, in how they behave in different contexts, either grammatical or stylistic, such a situation is no surprise, of course. It resembles the situation with "no" versus "not" in negative expressions: though "not" is universal, "no" is still found more often in "have" and "there to be" sentences.

Phew... How hard it is to put all the arguments togethet. I'll just post it like it is in order to keep the conversation going and not let it cease
Topic: "There to be" in relative clauses
Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 3:02:37 AM
Hello everybody!

Recently, while speaking, I stumbled over a relative clause in which I was going to use 'there to be' construction to predicate existence (or rather non-existence) and was confused with the syntax of such a clause.

I was going to sort of combine two sentences similar to these

You are talking about things. There aren't such things.

I realised I wasn't sure what the result would be. I have now different options:

1) You are talking about things there aren't.
2) You are talking about things that aren't there.
3) You are talking about things that aren't.

Please, comment on your opinion about those three. Are any of them utterly wrong? Are there stylistic differences? Which one would you personally prefer?



I did a little research, so to speak, and found different syntactic structures; most of the examples are, however, affirmative, so I'm not quite sure that "there is" behaves the same way in negative clauses. I came up with the three examples above after I had seen the things below.

A) Galadriel: Will you look inyo the mirror? Frodo: What will I see? Galadriel: Even the wisest cannot tell, for the mirror shows many things: things that were, things that are, and some things that have not yet come to pass.

B) Daniel Kahnemann talks about a phenomenon that he calls "What you see is all there is".

C) I saw lots of such results in Google: Seeing and hearing things that aren't there.

P.S. I realize that technically speaking some of the clauses considered are not "there to be" clauses, but as they predicate existence, have the verb "to be" in them and are equivalent in function, I decided to include them.
Topic: "There is" in relative clauses
Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 2:59:20 AM
Hello everybody!

Recently, while speaking, I stumbled over a relative clause in which I was going to use 'there is' construction to predicate existence (or rather non-existence) and was confused with the syntax of such a clause.

I was going to sort of combine two sentences similar to these

You are talking about things. There aren't such things.

I realised I wasn't sure what the result would be. I have now different options:

1) You are talking about things there aren't.
2) You are talking about things that aren't there.
3) You are talking about things that aren't.

Please, comment on your opinion about those three. Are any of them utterly wrong? Are there stylistic differences? Which one would you personally prefer?



I did a little research, so to speak, and found different syntactic structures; most of the examples are, however, affirmative, so I'm not quite sure that "there is" behaves the same way in negative clauses. I came up with the three examples above after I had seen the things below.

A) Galadriel: Will you look inyo the mirror? Frodo: What will I see? Galadriel: Even the wisest cannot tell, for the mirror shows many things: things that were, things that are, and some things that have not yet come to pass.

B) Daniel Kahnemann talks about a phenomenon that he calls "What you see is all there is".

C) I saw lots of such results in Google: Seeing and hearing things that aren't there.

P.S. I realize that technically speaking some of the clauses considered are not "there is" clauses, but as they predicate existence, have the verb "to be" in them and are equivalent in function, I decided to include them.
Topic: 2nd vs 3rd conditionals
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 3:49:40 PM
Quote:
If you prelude things with 'in this alternative timeline' you are creating your own reality. That then becomes 'real'. It might then feel clumsy to keep using 'if they hadn't'. If the 'unreal' is your local 'real' then that becomes 'what if they didn't?'

So, it might still be the natural way to say it. Context outranks absolute rules.


That's close to what I meant when I said

Quote:
I mean, as you can apply Present Simple to speak about the Romans, why not use second conditional to talk about the past, as if it was something happening in an alternative reality, or rather, in a very abstract timeline:
Topic: 2nd vs 3rd conditionals
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 3:35:07 PM
Quote:
Later I noticed that he used something that looked like second conditional in places where I would expect the third.


Third conditionals are also found in the video, though.

2) As a native speaker of Russian, I'm not naturally used to thinking about the two conditionals as clearly distinct phenomena, as in Russian in such cases we just use a special partical which is added to the verb, and one can tell whether someone is talking about the past or present only using contextual clues. So, sometimes when I want to utter a sentence in one of the unreal conditionals I can hardly tell which is more suitable.

I'll give an example:

Suppose we're talking about friend's last exam, which he failed. We say

If I were you, I wouldn't have slept the night before and would've prepared better.

I know "If I were you" is much more preferable than "If I had been you" since we're talking about being him, so to speak, timelessly, on some conceptual level. However, when it comes to "If I were in your shoes", I can't really say if 'being in someone's shoes' is timeless or not. I suppose it is, but I can only guess.

Besides, I can't sometimes tell whether I want to say "I would've done something differently in THAT PARTICULAR situation" or "I would do something differently in SUCH A situation". In Russian, both

If I were you, I would've studied harder.
If I were you, I would study harder.

would sound the same. So I just have to make a decision I'm not obliged to make in my native language.

As I was writing all this, I realized that in most cases I actually know which of the two I want to use. I love that distinction between the two conditionals as it disambiguates sentences which might be ambiguous in Russian (never noticed by Russian speakers, I guess). And yes, speaking English, I make lots of decisions I never have to make while speaking Russian. That's just cool! Mental workout))
Topic: 2nd vs 3rd conditionals
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 1:50:53 PM
Thanks a lot for your examples, Audiendus and thar. They have clarified a lot as to real conditionals about the past.

Quote:

I think you put too much faith in those examples you quote. You have been trying to see a grammatical reason, where in reality there is just bad English.


That's very true)) (bad English, I guess. I shouldn't have probably used the word 'very') Actually, I've been trying to figure out how often native speakers use such constructres and watched this video https://youtu.be/MisdSQA9CmI
I'm not really sure how good that guy's grammar is but I did put some trust in it. I noticed that he used <"in this alternate timeline" + Present Simple> more often than third conditionals, and I thought that as an elegant way, a good strategy, to deal with, or rather, avoid using third conditionals.

Later I noticed that he used something that looked like second conditional in places where I would expect the third. So I thought "What's happening here? Is it a sign of some grammatical change, some shift in conditionals, or is it just an alternative which has a solid foundation on the conceptual level of language?" So, you're absolutely right! I put too much faith in this source))
Topic: 2nd vs 3rd conditionals
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 7:50:17 AM
Sorry for keeping silence for so long. I read your comments carefully and have further questions (or mostly my reflections on the subject).

1) I actually thought it all was much more complicated than native speakers just being lazy. I thought there could be some link between, so called, historic present and kind of second conditional used to spectulate about the past. I mean, as you can apply Present Simple to speak about the Romans, why not use second conditional to talk about the past, as if it was something happening in an alternative reality, or rather, in a very abstract timeline:

The Romans take over Carthage in 201 B.C.

What if the Romans never took Carthage?..

P.S. I'll continue later but post what I've already written in order not put off my reply any longer.

Topic: 2nd vs 3rd conditionals
Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2017 2:58:24 PM
Hello, everybody!

I've been recently confused with usage of 2nd and 3rd conditionals. I noticed, contrary to my predictions, that 2nd conditional (or just the conditional clause) is sometimes used to speak about a hypothetical past as in

What if Genghis Khan was never born? or
What if the Russian revolution never happened?

Well, in order not to bore you with too much theory and my thoughts on this subject, I'll first ask you which one you would prefer

1) What if the Russian revolution never happened? or
2) What if the Russian revolution had never happened

I'll be happy to have a lengthy discussion of the subject matter))
Topic: The most awkward sentence ever! (Help with syntactic analysis)
Posted: Sunday, November 13, 2016 2:49:23 AM

Thanks a lot for the references, TheParser! I'll certainly try to find them. I'll be definitely watchful from now on as to adverbial clauses of concession.

Besides, much as I was puzzled by that sentence, and awkward as it seemed to me, I have become really eager to read the book.

Topic: The most awkward sentence ever! (Help with syntactic analysis)
Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2016 12:35:22 AM
thar wrote:
Yes, this is one of those where, if you can get the overall idea of aversion to sponge-baths, you can get a mental picture of what is being suggested - that the nurse help go him as far as the bathroom (and back to bed again).
Knowing what it means helps you see how it is constructed, rather than the other way round![/color]


I would disagree with that. The hardest part was to realize the noun 'help' could collocate with... erm... directions. I would probably easily understand a sentence like "Her help home was highly appreciated" in appropriate context, but without one it would seem to me like "Her help around home...". Not the best example, though Think

Ok. I know one can show somebody somewhere and help somebody somewhere, but when you add details and instead of something like

The landlord showed us to our rooms.
I helped the old lady across the street.

you get

My show further to the north where they could see the the mountain from the best viewpoint cheered them up a lot.
The help of a stranger through the woods saved our lives.

you really lose all the links among word. I mean, not you probably, but I certainly would, because of all that nominalization (verbs become nouns) and a great distance between the, so to speak, main noun in the subject and the verb.

The idea of him hating the sponging process was clear from the beginning but the middle part remained a mystery for long enough.

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