What kind of sentence is it:

It is a pity that he should fail the examination.

Kindly explain to me in what situation do we use such a structure?

1 Answer 1


It’s a most unusual kind of sentence, and one that a native speaker would be unlikely to produce.

The form such a sentence takes depends on what the speaker wants to say. If the examination has not yet taken place someone might possibly say:

It would be a pity if he should fail the examination.

But that’s very formal, and even old-fashioned. It would probably occur as:

It would be a pity if he failed the examination.

If the examination has already taken place, and the candidate has failed, then the comment might be:

It's a pity he failed the examination.

  • 1
    And there's the offbeat reading 'Regrettably, he's done no revision and doesn't deserve to pass – but he's so clever he probably will.' 'Yes, how sad. It is a pity that he should fail the examination.' Commented Oct 22, 2013 at 9:08

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