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1: They would be happy if the road 'is not' bifurcated.

2: They would be happy if the road 'does not get' bifurcated.

I am really confused with the use of 'is not' and 'does not get'.

Are the above both sentences correct and when to use the former and latter?

4 Answers 4

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If the road is not or does not get split (I'm substituting the normal English "split" for the bizarre "bifurcated") are both normal ways of expressing a realis possibility, (i.e. something that might happen in the future), and so are compatible with "will" but not with "would":

They will be happy if the road is not/does not get split.

But the would puts it into an irrealis condition - something that you can think about but you that didn't or can't happen; so the conditional clause should have a past or "subjunctive" verb

They would be happy if the road were not/was not/did not get split.

Did not get corresponds to does not get above.

Were not and was not both correspond to is not above. The difference is that traditional grammar requires were in an irrealis conditional (the sole remaning instance in the entire English langauge of a past subjunctive) but many people today do not use it and would say was.

In ordinary spoken or informal English, unless you were putting stress on not, these would all be contracted: isn't, doesn't, weren't, wasn't, didn't.

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  • Yeah, that bifurcated got me too though I suppose one might see it on engineering drawings for roads.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 17:51
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The sentence:

(1) They would be happy if the road is not bifurcated.

is valid grammatically, and normal; a fluent speaker would understand and might write this. (However, many would say "split in two" rather than "bifurcated".) It means that "they" would be happy if the road is not in fact divided in two.

The sentence:

(2) They would be happy if the road does not get bifurcated.

is a rather less likely one. It only makes sense to me if: The road is not currently divided, but a redesign is possible, which would split the road, but "they" would be happy if that split was not created. This is obviously a rather contrived situation, and not likely. In any case "does not get" cannot be substituted into (1) with no change in meaning.

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It's a matter of context. Bifurcate means to split in to two parts, so I assume they hope the road doesn't split.

"They hope the road does not split," would make more sense, grammatically

"They hope the road does not get split" is improper word usage.

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They are both grammatical and have the same effective meaning.

In both cases, some unidentified party or parties has the authority to bifurcate the road. The formally active verb “does get to verb” is completely synonymous in meaning with the passive form of the verb when the actor involved is unspecified.

The “get to” form is rare in formal prose, but quite common in speech.

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  • Yes, but a road either divides or it doesn't. It's unlikely that someone will suddenly come along and 'bifurcate' it! Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 8:02
  • It is clear that you have been spared the vagaries of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: roads can simply disappear. As for roads that once were sane, some become entirely schizophrenic under the ministrations of the department. Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 13:58
  • The mind boggles! Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 14:09

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