Jane Austen's peculiarity

Alex Tweedly alex at tweedly.net
Sun Aug 9 01:44:36 CEST 2015


I think I'd agree that a conditional clause should be equired (could it 
be any of 'if', 'unless', 'whether', ...)?

Otherwise, you'd be finding false positives like:

I gave two shillings to my brother and last night they _were returned_ 
to me.

-- Alex.

On 08/08/2015 20:56, Paul Looney wrote:
> Richmond,
>
> The key here is the “if” - which creates a conditional clause - which requires the past plural of the verb (in this case “were”). This is similar to the “wenn" clause in German (Deutsch) and the “ut” clause in Latin.
> If I were able, I’d thank you in person for mentioning this.
>
> Paul Looney
>
>> On Aug 8, 2015, at 9:42 AM, Richmond <richmondmathewson at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> Jane Austen [amongst others] uses an interesting type of grammatical construction of this sort:
>>
>> After breakfast, the girls walked to Meryton to inquire if Mr. Wickham
>> _were returned_, and to lament over his absence from the Netherfield ball.
>>
>> Pride and Prejudice.
>>
>> I would like to analyse a million word corpus that I have been granted access to for this type of construction.
>>
>> However, I don't want to find examples of only 'were returned', but all examples of
>>
>> were + infinitive / preterite / past participle
>>
>> and, presumably for that I shall have to use wildcards . . .
>>
>> OR ???
>>
>> Richmond.
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