"I would work on another script later this month, if I thought I could find the time."

As far as I know, both parts of the 2nd conditional are supposed to express present situation. Is it present situation with its present result in this case?

  • It's a confusing construction which few native speakers would use anyway. It's inherently ambiguous as to whether the speaker has already decided he won't be able to find the time later this month (hypothetical unreal situation), or is speculating on what he might do if it turns out later that he thinks he will be able to find the time (which could more cumbersomely be expressed as if I were to think I could). – FumbleFingers Mar 25 '15 at 18:28
  • Great. Thanks. Do you think it would be also correct to say 'But for my work on previous script I would work on another one'? – gerol2000 Mar 25 '15 at 18:55
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    @FumbleFingers Perhaps it's my age, but I see it as an everyday construction. I would go to the seaside, if I thought the sun would shine. I would buy a Rolls Royce, if I was rich. What's wrong with those? – WS2 Mar 25 '15 at 18:56
  • I reckon nothing is wrong. – gerol2000 Mar 25 '15 at 18:59
  • @WS2, gerol2000: The Rolls Royce example is straightforward (hypothetical unreal, because I'm not rich). With your sun example it's not really clear. – FumbleFingers Mar 25 '15 at 19:08

Your sentence is correct, but complicated and a bit confusing at the end with so many doubts, as other posters have pointed out.

Let's forget terminology, and learn some real constructs from real writers:-)

Using tense simplification in the conditional subordinate (see the fundamental paper by Declerck, Swan, etc):

future --> present

Diana Santee #3: Tanderon - Page 114 Sharon Green. If I find some time later, I'll come by to console you over your loss."

New Playwrights: The Best Plays of ... - Page 59 2003. But if I find some time I'd like to spend it with you.

Thus in your case, I'd suggest:

"I'll work on another script later this month, if I find the time."

"I'd like to work on another script later this month, if I find the time."

Now, you could use tense simplification also by replacing:

conditional --> past

The John Varley Reader - Page 168, John Varley - 2004. I would inform him of it if I had the time, hoping he would not be crazy enough to kill both of us.

"I'd like to work on another script later this month, if I had the time."

"I'd like to work on another script later this month, if I found the time."

  • There is an inherent difference between your examples and the ones that the OP uses. Yours are not conditionals in quite the same sense as the OP's. I would like to work (whilst I am there), if I (will) find the time, is not the same thing as saying I would like to work if I had the time. – WS2 Mar 25 '15 at 19:36
  • I agree. However, I think they apply to the situation. – Marius Hancu Mar 25 '15 at 19:52
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    There's nothing complicated about the OP's example. The OP's example is saying it is very unlikely he'll find the time. And your last example "I'd like to work on another script this month, if I found the time" sounds a little off to me. What do you think it means? – Peter Shor Mar 25 '15 at 19:55
  • @Peter Shor: "If I found" is a backshift to past tense representing present time conditional: "If I would find." See Don't Cry For Me Aberystwyt, Malcolm Pryce - 2010 *'What would happen if I found the photo and took the pin out? Would that help?' 'But how would you find it?'. * You're right, it's not much heard for "to find," but as you can see, it's there. – Marius Hancu Mar 25 '15 at 20:17
  • BTW, how does one get italics in the "Add Comment" window? Or links? – Marius Hancu Mar 25 '15 at 20:18

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