5

Even if/though we couldn't manage without their help, I wouldn't ask them

The correct answer is "Even if" because (as I understand) only 'even if' can be used in conditional sentences.

Even if we couldn't manage without their help, I wouldn't ask them.

We didn't ask them for help, and we wouldn't even if the situation was utterly hopeless which indeed it wasn't.

Even though we couldn't manage without their help, I wouldn't ask them.

We didn't ask for help and we wouldn't do it, ever. They did help of their own accord (but we hate them anyway).

Am I right or wrong? If the second one is not grammatically correct, what is the correct way to convey the meaning of the second sentence?

Common mistakes at CAE (2017)
Page 43, Test 8 3.1

  • Thank you, @Mari-Lou A for editing my post! – Oksana Apr 16 '19 at 7:13
4
  1. Even though we couldn't manage without their help, I wouldn't ask them.

  2. Even if we couldn't manage without their help, I wouldn't ask them.

Both of the sentences above are perfectly fine, and the CAE book is, unfortunately, wrong.

Notice that in both of these examples, it is possible that the not being able to manage situation may never occur, and may be entirely hypothetical.

There is a clause following the even though/even if in each version. This clause is:

  1. we couldn't manage without their help

The difference between examples (1) and (2) is that in example (1) it is pre-supposed that this clause is true. In example (2) it is not. It is entirely possible in sentence (2), for example, that we might be able to manage perfecty well without their help.

Sentences with even though present their subordinate clauses as given facts, whereas sentences with even if do not. Consider the following sentences:

  1. Even though Tom is here, we'll never be able to find him.

  2. Even if Tom is here, we'll never be able to find him.

In sentence (4) we know that Tom is here. In sentence (5), he may or may not be.

  • 1
    "Notice that in both of these examples, it is possible that the not being able to manage situation may never occur, and may be entirely hypothetical." I think I understand. Whether what's presupposed in (1) is true or not has no bearing on the the fact that the whole sentence is still in an irrealis mood. Just like in logic an invalid argument might have true premises and true conclusion. It does sound a little bit counter-intuitive. I wonder, is it due to the fact that I am not a native speaker or native speakers might find it difficult to wrap their mind around the concept as well... – Oksana Apr 16 '19 at 7:05
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    @Oksana I think it's difficult for native speakers too! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '19 at 10:04
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The difference is whether the antecedent is factual (real) or hypothetical.

Even if places the antecedent (we couldn’t manage without their help) in an irrealis mood: perhaps you can manage without their help, perhaps you can’t - but it supposes you can’t (with even complicating things by subsuming the case where you can). Neither is a fact. Either way, your even if version says that you wouldn’t ask for their help.

Even though has it in a realis mood - the antecedent is fact: you can’t manage without their help. Your even though version doesn’t say whether you’ve asked for their help in the past or whether they have helped or will help, or even whether you accept their help at any time past, present or future. It simply states that you need it but wouldn’t ask for it.

  • 1
    Hmm. Problem here though. Even if English had moods, the combination of without plus modal could in the even-version would also constitute an irrealis mood. Consider without legs, I couldn't walk. So your description here is not much help, although I know what you're angling at. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 14 '19 at 9:40
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    Perhaps you need to consider the concept of presupposition. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 14 '19 at 9:41
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    @Araucaria Thanks for the interesting counterexample. Both the OP’s examples are irrealis (if I may put it that way) if we consider each sentence as a whole. That doesn’t invalidate the observation that there is a difference in the antecedents. Couching the difference in terms of presuppositions, as you suggest, would be a neat abstraction of those antecedents. – Lawrence Apr 14 '19 at 11:37
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Both phrases are idiomatic and synonymous.

Dictionary entries prove this.

For example, according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary :

even if

 idiom

— used to stress that something will happen despite something else that might prevent it 

// I'm going to the party even if it rains.

even though

idiom

—used as a stronger way to say "though" or "although" 

// She stayed with him even though he often mistreated her. // I'm going even though it may rain.

though

: in spite of the possibility that

 : even if

// though I may fail, I will try

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