4

I am a teacher of English as a second language (secondary school). I've been correcting a test on the 3rd conditional - the task was to change the given sentences from a 2nd conditional form to a 3rd conditional one - and many students wrote the following: 1) The manager'd pay high salaries if more profits were made.

I want to point out to them that they should have written the complete form "The manager would pay high salaries ... " instead of the abbreviation "'d", but I don't know how to explain the grammatical reason why. I just know (or feel) it's wrong, but I need to provide an adequate explanation.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Drew, FumbleFingers, jimm101, Mitch, curiousdannii Oct 12 '16 at 7:18

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Oct 15 '16 at 1:21
3

I agree with you that the students should be encouraged not to use the contraction in this sentence.

The reason I would give is that people would have trouble understanding them if they used a contraction here.

Contractions of would are clearly understandable with the pronouns (e.g. he'd, she'd we'd, etc., but with less common uses, the listener would have to work too hard to understand. If you try speaking this sentence out loud, you'll see what I mean. Manager'd sounds like manager is a verb and we put it in the past tense. Which doesn't make sense in this context -- so then the listener has to play it back in his mind and re-parse it. Rule #1 in communicating in a non-native language: make it easy for your listener to understand you.

(Such a contraction would only be used in written English if one were writing dialogue or writing something that evokes spoken English.)

  • People use a contracted would in speech, but it's usually pronounced /əd/ and not /d/. So manager'd would be pronounced /mæneɪdʒərəd/ and not /mæneɪdʒərd/. See dictionary. – Peter Shor Oct 11 '16 at 20:24
  • @PeterShor - Pardon me for asking this, but have you actually had the experience of struggling to make yourself understood in a non-English-speaking country? It is this practical experience which gave birth to my Rule #1. – aparente001 Oct 11 '16 at 20:30

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