When do you use 'Were to Verb' as opposed to 'Past tense of Verb' for possibility?

3

I am wondering what the difference is between 'were to Verb' and 'past tense of Verb' and in what specific situation native speakers use 'were to Verb'.

Examples:

  1. "If you were to work for a company, what type of field would suit you?"
  2. "If you worked for a company, what type of field would suit you?"

and,

  1. "If you were to get married one day, you had a wedding, what type of wedding would you envision yourself in?"
  2. "If you got married one day, you had a wedding, what type of wedding would you envision yourself in?"

I tried making a sentence using "were to Verb" but failed and I still have no clue why. My example is:

  1. 'These days my hair has been falling out and that worries me. Might it be only a seasonal change affecting my body? I wish this were the case so then I were to get back to normal when spring comes.'

What am I doing wrong in example #5?

Poppy

Posted 2015-02-17T05:30:52.227

Reputation: 63

Answers

0

Both of your first pair are hypothetical. The use of "worked" in the second is NOT past tense, which is made obvious by the use of "would" in the clause that follows. There is only a slight difference. Some ( including me) would claim that the first one, using "if you were" implied more uncertainty than the second.

In your second pair, using "one day" emphasizes the uncertainty of the hypothetical event, so there is even less difference between using "were to get" and "got" (although "get" might work a bit better than "got").

You are correct that your example about hair falling out is not correct usage of "were to". This is because you used "were" in the subordinate clause as well as in the conditional. In that sentence, substitute "I would get back" for "I were to get back"

Brian Hitchcock

Posted 2015-02-17T05:30:52.227

Reputation: 8 181

0

I'll address 'were to...' and 'past tense of a verb' without getting into the context you mentioned. This is for the sake of brevity avoiding ambiguity.

'were to' is quite similar to 'What if...' The most important thing is, that event has not happened. It's just hypothetical.

If you were to buy a smartphone, which one would have been your choice? ~ An iPhone 6 Plus

The phone is not yet bought.

On the other hand, 'if you worked....' is quite similar to 'if you have worked...'. It sets the condition of whether you have worked.

For instance,

If one worked hard, he could achieve something

means the condition of achieving something is working hard.

Maulik V

Posted 2015-02-17T05:30:52.227

Reputation: 66 188