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Are these sentences natural? May 17 Options
musicgold
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 4:21:49 PM
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Hi,

Are the following sentences natural to a native ear?

1. If you didn’t make those changes, what would have been the income?

2. If you didn’t make those changes what would happen?

3. I am just trying to understand what would have happened if you hadn’t made those changes.


Thanks,
MG.
mailady
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:00:31 PM
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I think you mean "outcome" instead of "income" for the first sentence. The other two are okay.
JOrge
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:16:04 PM
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Hi mailady,
In the second sentence (If you didn’t make those changes what would happen?) is not correct to say:
If you didn’t make those changes what would have happened? (to maintain the same tense)

Just asking...
jmacann
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:37:25 PM
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What about "If you had not made those changes, // what would the income have been? / what would have happened? for
1 & 2.
---
3 can stand.
Win
Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:08:58 AM
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Location: India
Hi Mg !

I feel 1st & 2nd sentences will sound more natural if written thus:

Had you not made those changes, what would have been the outcome?
Had you not made those changes, what would have happened?

where as the 3rd one sounds perfect.
Romany
Posted: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 11:41:52 PM
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Win - while those sentences are perfectly correct, as a native speaker, I wouldn't fine them as natural as using the conditional "If/would" construction. Also, it is far more natural to use contractions as in the OP.

1. The tenses would have to agree, sure:
If you hadn't made those changes what would the outcome have been? (what would have been the outcome is correct but clumsy)

2. There is actually quite a legitimate case for the two tenses viz:- you are about to do something and someone is wondering what would happen if you didn't. In this case there's nothing wrong with the sentence.

However, as I guess that all 3 sentences are variations on the same meaning:-
If you hadn't made those changes what would have happened ('what would have happened' merely being a variation on 'what would the outcome have been' in 1).

3.) I join the consensus in agreeing that it's perfectly fine as it stands.
Bashou
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 5:13:17 AM
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[quote=Romany]
2. There is actually quite a legitimate case for the two tenses viz:- you are about to do something and someone is wondering what would happen if you didn't. In this case there's nothing wrong with the sentence.



Thanks for making a point of this. Saying that this sentence is not correct at all might confuse learners of English.
Deborah Owen
Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 6:01:13 PM
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Joined: 5/20/2011
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Location: United States

When striving for realism, proper language goes out the window.
Americans are notorious for taking the quickest shortcuts to get
their point across. If I were writing that sentence in a story,
I would have said:

"What would've happened if you hadn't changed?"

But every writer has their own way of phrasing things. No one
answer is correct when striving for believable dialogue. You're
doing just fine. When in doubt, pretend two strangers are talking
in a restaurant and "hear" what they will say.

Deb/Creative Writing Institute
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