Is "would give" or "gave" right?

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Her desperate prayer led to a vow that if God would give her a son, she would give the child back to Him for all the days of his life.

 

Her desperate prayer led to a vow that if God gave her a son, she would give the child back to Him for all the days of his life.

 

 

 

When Samuel was weaned, she took him to Shiloh where he would live and serve in the Tabernacle for life.

asked Feb 20 '13 at 03:25 Susan New member

2 answers


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Tolley's advice is a little confusing, and I don't completely agree.  Standard second conditional sentences do not use would in the if-clause, and as a matter of style and register here, if God gave is the better choice. 

 

While it is possible to use would in both the if-clause and the main clause of a conditional sentence, it is also extremely informal, mostly found in spoken American English, and should be avoided in written texts, certainly serious texts like yours.

link answered Feb 20 '13 at 04:01 Shawn Mooney Expert

Please explain what a "standard second conditional sentence" is please. What about the same construction in "If I would go to work I would make money"? That is your forbidden conditional "if". Try this: "If I would train more I would be in better shape." Please provide your source. You're right that it is informal, but that is not part of the question.

TolleyFeb 20 '13 at 16:37

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Tolley, you seem to have deleted your previous answer for some unknown reason. 

 

What is a second conditional?

 

A second conditional is a conditional statement that talks about unreal situations: events that are unlikely, hypothetical, or imaginary.  The 'unreality' is shown by using a past-tense verb in the if-clause and would  in the main clause.  If she kissed me, I would be happy.  This is in contrast to a first conditional statement that talks about more likely, realistic events by using a present tense verb in the if-clause and will in the main clause.  If she kisses me, I'll be happy.

 

Using would in both clauses is unusual, informal, and should be avoided in writing, especially formal writing

 

"Conditional would is sometimes used in both clauses of an if-sentence.  This is very informal, and is not usually written.  It is common in spoken American English." - Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, 3rd ed, p. 240.

 

All of the examples you have provided in your most recent post belong to the category of casual spoken American English and would not be acceptable in written English.  Formality/informality is very much an issue when commenting on a text such as was excerpted in the original post.  Using would in both clauses would be akin to using gonna; fine for casual speech, sure, but not for biblical exegesis.

link comment edited Feb 21 '13 at 14:14 Shawn Mooney Expert

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