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look at these sentences: I just wondered how these two sentences differ from each other: 1. "If he hadn't been wearing a seatbelt, he woudn't have survived the crash." 2. "Had he not been wearing a seatbelt, he wouldn't have survived the crash." question: do they differ in expressing a meaning (i.e. emphasizing or highlighting something)? is sentence# 2 a common sentence structure used by american much frequent than british? please discuss further... thanks.
Jan 14, 2010 4:49 AM
Answers · 4
The second sentence with "Had" at the beginning is an example of subject/verb inversion. In older English certain verbs like, should, had, could, would, were, did, know, etc. expressed condition when the verb was placed before the subject. Appropriately, they are called inverted conditionals. Examples: -Knew I the road….meaning…….If I knew the road. -Would he but try…meaning ……If he would only try. -Did space allow…meaning ......If there were space. The only inverted conditionals still in contemporary usage are should, had, and were. Why have they survived? I suppose it is because they are brief and elegant, and useful. They can be used in formal language: Examples: -Were it not for Spiderman, the city would have been destroyed. … classier than... -If it were not for Spiderman, the city would have been destroyed. -Should I be elected…. ……sounds more impressive than… -If I should be elected…. They can be used in everyday language: Examples: -Should someone drop by… … easy to understand , to the point and shorter than… -If someone should drop by…. When you are in the middle of a conversation, setting up the whole "if clause construction" takes more effort. Often the inverted form just flows better with the conversation. Example: --Blah, blah, blah, ....well, had I not done it, we would've lost…..blah, blah, blah, etc.
January 15, 2010
We can use inversion in clauses with 'should', 'were' and 'had'. These types of clause are rather formal. - We can express a condition with 'should' or the subjunctive 'were' by inverting the subject and verb: 'Should anyone call (= if anyone calls), please tell them I’m busy' (Formal): used to refer to a possible event or situation. 'Were we to offer you more money, would you stay?' (Formal): used to express a condition. - We can do the same with the past perfect: 'Had he not been wearing a seatbelt (= If he hadn't been wearing a seatbelt), he wouldn't have survived the crash'. (Formal) 'Had I known that (= if I had known that) I would never have come.' (Formal) But an if-clause is more common, especially in informal English: 'If he hadn't been wearing a seatbelt, he woudn't have survived the crash.' (more common, esp. in informal English).
January 14, 2010
The first sentence is conditional, the second sentence is not conitional
January 14, 2010
The 2 sentences express the same thing; we can express the conditional using inversion
January 14, 2010
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, Filipino (Tagalog), Spanish
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)