Author Topic: yesternight  (Read 5883 times)

jhinx22

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yesternight
« on: April 08, 2013, 04:45:17 PM »
Hello, sir!

I would just like to know if the word "yesternight" can still be used? According to what I have researched, this word can no longer be used. I hope that you can answer this question. Thank you.

Joe Carillo

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Re: yesternight
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 05:40:58 PM »
"Yesternight" is an archaic word for "last night," dating to as far back as the 1500s and has long fallen into disuse. You'd sound decidedly Shakespearean if you used it in your spoken or written English today, so I suggest you don't.

Mwita Chacha

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Re: yesternight
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2013, 04:02:57 PM »
Two corollary questions Sir:
First, is there any problem for someone to sound, as you've put it, Shakespearean?
Second, why have you decided to use the unreal conditional sentence ''You'd sound decidedly Shakespearean if you used it in your spoken or written English today'' instead of the real one ''You'll sound decidedly Shakepearean if you use it in your spoken or written English today?'' The use of unreal conditional constructions, as far as I know, is restricted to those actions that have never happened or will never happen at all--imaginary situations. You'll agree with me that there's nothing guaranteeing that the person who asked the question has never used the word under discussion or never will he or she use it in his or her potential conversations or writings.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, 04:07:46 PM by Mwita Chacha »

Joe Carillo

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Re: yesternight
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 08:08:53 AM »
Let’s analyze my actual statement about “yesternight” in that posting: “You’d sound decidedly Shakespearean if you used it in your spoken or written English today, so I suggest you don’t.”

There’d be no problem if you are on stage performing a role in a faithful rendition of, say, Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet; your English would have to sound Shakespearean in keeping with the language and spirit of the play. But if you speak or write like that in workaday situations today, which is the context clearly stated in my statement, people would likely think you’ve gone out of your mind. Indeed, if you send out job applications or answer job interview questions in Shakespearean English, don’t ever expect to be considered seriously for hiring. Your very own friends are likely to shy away from you if you are in the habit of speaking archaic English. This is how important and crucial it is to be contemporaneous in your English.

As to your second question, no, I didn’t decide to use the unreal conditional sentence for that sentence in question. Regrettably, the word “used” in that sentence is a proofreading error; it should have been “use” instead, so the sentence should have read as follows: “You’d sound decidedly Shakespearean if you use it in your spoken or written English today.” This is as opposed to this real conditional construction that you suggested, which uses “will” instead of “would”: “You’ll sound decidedly Shakespearean if you use it in your spoken or written English today.” I didn’t use the future-tense auxiliary “will” for the verb “sound” because I didn’t want to express simple futurity for that action; I used the modal “would sound” to indicate possibility or probability, not the stark certainty of “will sound.”

The question that arises here is, of course, why not use this first conditional or real possibility construction: “You’ll sound decidedly Shakespearean if you use it in your spoken or written English today”? In such a first conditional sentence, the speaker talks about a high degree of possibility that a particular condition or situation will happen in the future as a result of a possible future condition. There’s no doubt that this form is grammatically and semantically correct, but the choice between using “will” and “would” in that statement actually depends on the mindset of the speaker. A fiercely opinionated speaker is likely to use “will,” while a more circumspect speaker is likely to use “would.” There’s really no hard-and-fast rule in subjective situations like this. The English language gives latitude to the speaker in using either “will” and “would” depending on his or her state of mind or temperament.

FURTHER READING ON CONDITIONALS:
Do better than a calculated guess in handling conditional sentences

jhinx22

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Re: yesternight
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2013, 09:10:11 AM »
Thank you, sir, for the clear answer to my question. Somebody has argued with me regarding its use.

I am a new learner of English, so I am glad that apart from your book "English Plain and Simple", you have this forum.

Mwita Chacha

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Re: yesternight
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2013, 11:47:07 PM »
I'm pleased, Sir, that you have admitted wrongly using the past-tense verb ''used'' in that sentence. Anyone would tell you such a sentence decisively falls into the group of unreal conditional constructions. As to the applications of ''would'' and ''will,'' I don't think I've much trouble telling how to apply them correctly and circumspectly.