Studiu de specialitate – Sequence of tenses in Conditional clauses

Autor: prof. Mihaela Rîță
Școala Gimnazialã Nr. 1, Corbeni, jud. Argeș

The tenses an English speaker uses in subordinate clauses are always conditioned by the tense in the main clause. The definition of the sequence of tenses explains the SOT as „a set of rules governing the selection of verbal forms – tenses or moods – in certain types of subordinate clauses under the influence of a number of tenses or constructions in the main or regent clauses”, but if it were nothing more than that, SOT would not have been so seriously treated by linguists. In what follows I’ll illustrate how adverbial clauses of condition change under the constraints of the rules of the sequence of tenses.
It is known that the event described in the main clause depends on the condition described in the conditional clause. At lower levels pupils are taught that there are three (four) main types of conditional clauses – 0, I, II III, IV. According to Collins Cobuild these four types do not fully describe the normal patterns of tense in conditional clauses. Thus, the following situations are described:
1. When we are talking about a common occurrence, we use the present simple or the present continuous in the conditional clause and in the main clause: I am much mistaken if Emma’s doctrines give any strength of mind, or tend at all to make a girl adapt herself rationally to the varieties of her situation in life. Continuarea