2

Can I say:

If you booked a ticket, you can enjoy the VIP service now.

I know If+ past tense can express unreality, but is this sentence is grammatical?

Thanks so much!

0

1 Answer 1

1

You ask about

If you booked a ticket, you can enjoy the VIP service now.

A native speaker might say this, but probably not write it. This is because the spontaneous element of spoken language, evidenced especially in discourse (conversation with others), allows for midsentence shifts in such things as modality, intended meaning, and topic. However, when carefully constructing a written sentence, the odds of a competent native speaker writing this sentence would be much less likely.

The textbook way to construct a sentence talking about unreality (also called irrealis) is to use a past tense form in the if-clause and a past tense modal verb in the main clause. Therefore, to express present irrealis, we would expect

If you booked a ticket, you could enjoy the VIP service now.

For asking about past unreality or irrealis, the textbook way is to use a past perfect verb form in the if-clause and a past "perfect" modal verb in the main clause:

If you had booked a ticket, you could have enjoyed the VIP service.

The use of present tense modals in the main clause is usually reserved for talking about real conditions (also called open conditions):

If you book a ticket, you can enjoy the VIP service.

Note also that can here, in the present tense, usually refers to ability and not possibility. To talk about possibility, you would use the first form I mentioned.

Please note that these are typical combinations, expressing the usual patterns that native speakers use. However, native speakers may use other "combinations" of verb tenses than those given here. Nevertheless, except in spoken English, where the mode of what a speaker says may change mid-sentence, you are unlikely to encounter your version of the sentence expressed by a competent, educated native speaker who is using standard grammar.

6
  • I'm not sure I like this usage of the word booked here. In my mind, at least, we buy tickets, but we book reservations. Also, I have no problem with: If you bought a ticket, you may enjoy the VIP service now – spoken, or written.
    – J.R.
    Sep 16, 2016 at 16:20
  • Thanks so much for your kind help! But can I say"If she is beautiful, I will marry her"? Instead, we still have words like "supposing" "unless" "in case", these words can give conditions of the past? Thanks so much!
    – moyeea
    Sep 17, 2016 at 0:11
  • @J.R. How are you using If you bought a ticket, you may enjoy the VIP service now? To talk about irrealis or realis? Sep 17, 2016 at 4:01
  • @moyeea If she is beautiful, I will marry her is not used to express an unreal condition, but a real condition. Sep 17, 2016 at 4:03
  • 1
    @AlanC - Suppose my office is having a party. The food is free, and so are the sodas, but let's assume the office also sold "VIP tickets." Anyone who bought a VIP ticket can get beer, wine, or cocktails from an open bar. If I want to announce that the bar has just opened, I might say, "If you bought a ticket, you may enjoy the VIP service now."
    – J.R.
    Sep 17, 2016 at 4:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .