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Speaking Hypothetically

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1 Speaking Hypothetically
A presentation for the Inha TESOL program. By Chris Gunn

2 When do we use it? We use hypothetical speech when we are:
(1) imagining/ supposing/ pretending (2) talking about unreal/untrue situations (3) talking about improbable/unlikely situations.

3 Example 1: Imagining Imagine you could have any super power. What would it be? If I could have any super power, I would choose the ability to fly.

4 Example 2: Unreal Situations
If I were president, I would help the poor and take care of the environment But I am not president so I won’t.

5 Example 3: Improbable Situations
If I won the lottery, I would quit my job and travel the world . . . But I probably won’t win so I’d better finish my work.

6 Past Unreal Conditional
Students’ most common experience of hypothetical speech comes from the past unreal conditional. (2nd conditional) If + (past tense), (would) Ex) If I saw a ghost, I would scream. However, speaking hypothetically is much more than just the second conditional.

7 Other Ways to Mark Hypothetical Speech.
There are many ways to mark hypothetical situations. The past unreal conditional is just one way. Here are some others: Imagine Suppose Say What if

8 Imagine Imagine you were stranded on a deserted island. How would you survive?

9 Suppose Suppose the price of oil increased to $ a barrel. What would be the effect on the economy. Well, first of all, there would be a great deal of inflation. Second, people would drive a lot less. Third, industry and government would invest more money in alternative energy sources.

10 Say Did you hear that Jack found a diamond worth $20,000 on the road? He returned it to the owner. Say you found a $20,000 diamond on the road. Would you keep it or return it?

11 Setting the Situation You set the situation using one of the markers plus the past tense. If + past tense Say + past tense Suppose + past tense Imagine + past tense.

12 Giving the Hypothetical Consequences
Once the situation is set, you use “would” and “could” to give the state the consequences. Situation: If my boss asked me on a date Consequence: I would refuse and complain. Situation: Let’s say I was in charge of this company Consequence: I would provide incentives for employees to work hard.

13 Once you have set the situation, you should keep using would or could as long as you are speaking hypothetically. EX) If I won the lottery, I would travel the world and I would see many things. First, I would visit Europe because I have always wanted to visit the castles and cathedrals. Then I would fly to South America so that I could trek through the rain forest. Finally, I would take a long vacation on an island in the Pacific.

14 However, be careful! Sometimes, you slide in and out of hypothetical speech. What is wrong with following?: If I could be an animal, I would be an eagle. If I were an eagle, I could fly over mountains and I could rest in tall trees. Eagles could see very far so I would be able to see my friends down on the ground below.

15 Eagles could can see very far so I would be able to see my friends down on the ground below.
Eagles really can see very far. So that is not a hypothetical situation.

16 Applications: There are many applications. Here are a few:
(1) Giving advice. (2) Giving solutions to problems.

17 Giving Advice If I were you, I would. . . If it were me, I would If I were in your shoes, I would I would . . .

18 Solutions to Problems If more people took public transportation, there wouldn’t be so much pollution. Also there wouldn’t be such traffics jams at rush hour.

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