4

This is from The Bold and the Beautiful.

Amber gave Rick one of her kidneys a few years ago. Now pregnant with Rick's baby, Amber faces some medical complications because of having only one kidney.

Amber: Hey, I hope you're not blaming yourself for this. Rick, I don't regret for one second what I did.

Rick: Maybe I regret it.

Amber: (1) If I didn't give you my kidney, then you wouldn't be here right now, and then we definitely wouldn't be having a baby. Let me tell you something. (2) If you needed two kidneys, I would have given you both of mine.

Are the bold parts sound right to you?

I feel like (1) should be,

1.b If I hadn't given you my kidney, then you wouldn't be here right now.

and (2) should be,

2.b If you had needed two kidneys, I would have given you both of mine.

or,

2.c If you needed two kidneys, I would give you both of mine.

2

You are correct about both (1) and (2).

(1) sounds to me like a non-standard AmE speech pattern used by some ethnic groups in and around the New York/New Jersey area. If this is Amber's background, she may be speaking this way to reflect that part of her character.

  • Or perhaps the writer's background. It's not an uncommon error in writing. We don't know whether the actress flubbed the line, or recited it verbatim as written. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 18 '15 at 10:09
0

I just learned something - I thought your sentences were examples of the conditional mood, and they are, but it turns out the past forms of the conditional mood historically come from the past subjunctive in English. My confusion was due to the fact that the only verb with a distinctive past subjunctive form is "to be":

If I were you, I wouldn't do that.

Back to your question. Here's a great discussion on the past conditionals of English: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_conditional_sentences#Second_conditional

Sentence (1) in your example requires the past perfect tense, because it's describing a hypothetical situation about a past, completed event:

I gave you my kidney. But if I hadn't, you wouldn't be here today.

The second part ("wouldn't be here") emphasizes that the effects of the past action are felt in the present moment. This sentence is an example of a mixed conditional, as per the discussion in Wikipedia.

Sentence (2), since again it refers to a past event, would be:

If you had needed two kidneys, I would have given you both of mine.

The difference here is that both the condition, and the end result, refer entirely to the past, so you use the past perfect in the conditional clause, and the future perfect in the past as the result clause.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.