Conditionals and pen-pushers
Thanks so much for your interesting blog article. You've covered so much ground over your four weeks, I feel like I know Hungary much better than before!
I'm particularly intrigued by what you say about Hungarians being very good at science and maths and that Hungary has produced many notable inventors. Why do you think that is?
Once upon a time, you might have said the same about English people. We had many famous engineers like Brunel and George Stephenson. But nowadays I think we are a nation of pen-pushers! Many people in my city, London, are involved in international business, consultancy and accounting. I guess we have a big advantage in being able to speak an international language.
Britain: a nation of pen-pushers?
I'm going to say goodbye to Zsuzsi today because this is my last blog for now. I am sure I will be back in the future! Bye to all my readers too; it's been great hearing your thoughts.
I arrived really late at the place of fete with my boyfriend, and we didn't enter the museums even if it was possible, we enjoyed rather the atmosphere of the Night and we took a tour in the centre of city walking on the streets.
This is tricky stuff. I think that what you want here is something we teachers call the third conditional:
If (past perfect verb) then (modal + past participle)
So in your sentence, you could say:
Even if the museums had been open, we wouldn't have entered them.
But you put the result first, so it should look like this:
I arrived really late at the fete with my boyfriend, but we wouldn't have entered the museums even if it had been possible. Instead, we enjoyed the atmosphere of the night and took a walking tour of the city centre.
This is about as difficult as English grammar gets, so let's return to this point in this week's homework.
In my view, my country is not a rich one economically.
In my view is a great example of a stance marker: a word or phrase that indicates the speaker's attitude towards something. To find out about some other stance markers, watch this fun video.
LAST WEEK'S HOMEWORK
Well done to Les, Beatriz, Hind and Tereza - you all got these answers right! Beatriz, you're right that it is me that presents most of these programmes - the very same William! Can't you tell from the photo of me and my dad on this page?
Hind, well done for doing this even though you find the blogs difficult. I'm sure your English will really improve if you keep pushing yourself.
1. He knows everything there is to know about stamps. He's a complete anorak!
2. I can't believe you're getting married! When's the big day?
3. I just bought a packet of crisps and when I opened them I saw they were half-empty! What a swizz!
4. Lots of my friends kiss each other when they say goodbye. I have to say I don't like it - I guess I'm just not very touchy-feely.
5. I'm almost ready - I'll just be two ticks / two shakes / a jiffy.
Remember that you can find out more about all these words by going to The English We Speak homepage.
OK, I did say I would return to the difficult terrain of the third conditional. Can you fill in the gaps in the following sentences, using one of the words in brackets? You might find this page useful:
1. If I _______ to Budapest, I would have seen the Danube. (have gone / had gone / go / went)
2. I _______ visited Hungary years ago if I'd known it was so fascinating! (had / (nothing) / would / might have)
3. If only _______ him about the phone call, he wouldn't have wasted his morning trying to speak to the supplier. (I have told / I told / I had told / I tell)
4. _______ I had applied for a ticket, I probably wouldn't have got one. There was so much demand! (Only if / Even if / If only / Whether)
5. _______ got up earlier I might have got to my meeting on time. (Had I, I had, If I, Have I)
- to cover so much ground - to discuss or review many topics, e.g. It was a very long meeting but we covered a lot of ground.
- intrigued - curious, interested
- notable - important, well-known
- Once upon a time - In the past, maybe a long time ago. Many children's stories begin with this line, e.g. Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived an unhappy princess. (Incidentally, children's stories often end with this line: They lived happily ever after.)
- pen-pusher - someone who works in an office, doing paperwork. The phrase is slightly derogatory, but humorous
- tricky - difficult
- to push oneself - to force oneself to work hard and achieve a goal, e.g. You'll never get into Cambridge unless you really push yourself and study every day
- terrain - the landscape. Here I am using it figuratively, to mean a topic area. Third conditionals are difficult, like doing a walk where there are many obstacles and you can't see the path.