『The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar』で「仮定法(subjunctive)」を引くと、最初に「仮定法現在(present subjunctive)」が出てきます。

The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar

The present subjunctive form of a verb is finite, and identical with the base form of the verb. Formally, it is exactly the same as the present tense indicative form, except for the third person singular, which lacks -s, and for the verb be, whose present subjunctive form is be.... First, the mandative subjunctive.... I recommended that he write and apologize.... This is called the should-mandative in CaGEL, and putative should in CGEL.


The Oxford Dictionary Of English Grammar

The so-called past subjunctive (also called the were-subjunctive or irrealis were) is used in clauses of hypothetical condition. It differs from the past indicative form of be only in the first and third person singular, where were is used, though was is increasingly found here too. The reference is to present (or future) time, e.g.
  • If I were you, I'd own up (compare: If I was you...)
  • If only my grandfather were alive today (compare: If only my grandfather was...)
  • If she were to come tomorrow...(compare: If she was to...)
The uses of ordinary indicative forms to express non-factuality, such as the use of a past tense to refer to a present or future situation (e.g. If you came tomorrow...; see past (2)), have been described as subjunctive uses--perhaps because in translation such a usage might need a subjunctive form in another language. Modern grammar considers this to be quite unjustified, and restricts the use of the term subjunctive as described above.

書き出しから「いわゆる仮定法過去(the so-called past subjunctive)」となっていて、これがbe動詞のwereを用いるものに限定されるとしています。仮定法は元々は動詞の語形を「仮定形(subjunctive form)」にすることで表すものとされているので、明らかに仮定法でのみ使用されるwereのみが仮定法に分類されているわけです(同じく仮定法現在も仮定形として原形不定詞を用いたもののみが厳密な意味での「仮定法」になり、shouldを用いるものは意味的には同じでも別分類になっています)。

『The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar』では、一般動詞の過去形を用いる場合は「仮定法過去」ではなく過去形の特殊な用法として分類されています:

The Oxford Dictionary Of English Grammar

past 2. (A tense or inflectional form of a verb)
typically expressing anteriority. The grammatical label past tense is typically used of a verb form that refers to a situation that took place in the past. However, this association can be misleading. While the past tense typically refers to past time, it can also be used hypothetically. To put it differently, it can denote modal remoteness (hence the alternative labels hypothetical past, modal past, and modal preterite), i.e. mark unreality, non-factuality, and so on:
  • If I had my way, I would abolish this organization
  • I wish I knew
The clause in which a modal past occurs is sometimes called a modal preterite clause.

The past tense can also be used for social distancing (the attitudinal past):
  • Could you lend me some money?
  • I wanted to ask you something

『The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language』でも、過去形の「時間的過去」以外を意味する用法の中において、仮定法過去に相当する用法に言及しています:

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language

One of the most important functions of the verbs is to indicate the time at which an action takes place....

Most uses refer to an action or state which has taken place in the past, at a definite time, with a gap between its completion and the present moment. Specific events, states, and habitual actions can all be expressed with this tense: I arrived yesterday (event), They were upset (state), They went to work every day (habitual).

The past tense is also used for present or future time.

The attitudinal past reflect a tentative state of mind, giving a more polite effect than would be obtained by using the present tense: Did you want to leave? (compare the more direct Do you want to leave?)

The hypothetical past expresses what is contrary to the speaker's beliefs: I wish I had a bike (i.e. I haven't got one). It is especially used in if-clause.

In indirect speech, a past tense used in the verb of 'saying' allows the verb in the reported clause to be past tense as well, even though it refers to present time: Did you say you had no money? (i.e. you haven't any now)(p.236).

つまり、「過去時制(past tense)」は、過去の行為や出来事を表す以外に①仮定的過去(hypothetical past、仮定法過去に相当)、②丁寧表現、③間接話法における時制の一致(backshift)において用いられるとあります。①の用法を仮定「」という分類にはしないわけです。

英語圏で英語学習者用に広く用いられているCambridge出版の教科書『Grammar Use in Use』にも、以下のように書かれています:

Advanced Grammar Use in Use

The subjunctive is a set of verb forms used mainly in rather formal English to talk about possibilities rather than facts. The present subjunctive uses the base form of the verb (e.g. We suggest that she leave immediately) and the past subjunctive uses were (e.g. If I were you, I'd go home now) (p.209).

同じく英語圏で英語学習者用に広く用いられているOxford出版の文法書『Practical English Usage(PEU)』には以下のように書かれています:

Practical English Usage

567 subjunctive
1 What is the subjunctive?
Some languages have special verb forms called 'subjunctive', which are used especially to talk about 'unreal' situations: things which are possible, desirable or imaginary. Older English had subjunctives, but in modern English they have mostly been replaced by uses of should, would and other modal verbs, by special uses of past tenses (see 426), and by ordinary verb forms. English only has a few subjunctive forms left: third-person singular present verbs without -(e)s, (e.g. she see, he have) and special forms of be (e.g. I be, he were). Except for I/he/she/it were after if, they are not very common.

426 past verb form with present or future meaning
A past tense does not always have a past meaning. In some kinds of sentence we can use verbs like I had, you went or I was wondering to talk about the present or future.

1 after conjunctions, instead of would
In most subordinate clauses (e.g. after if, supposing, wherever, what), we use past tenses (and not would...) to express 'unreal' or conditional ideas (see 580.6).
  • If I had the money now I'd buy a car....
  • I wish (that) I had a better memory.
2 distancing in questions, requests etc
We can make questions, requests and offers less direct (and so more polite) by using past tenses. (For more about 'distancing' of this kind, see 436.) Common formulae are I wondered, I thought, I hoped, did you want.
  • I wondered if you were free this evening.
  • I thought you might like some flowers.
  • Did you want cream with your coffee, sir?
Past progressive forms (I was thinking/wondering/hoping etc) make sentences even less direct.
  • I was thinking about that idea of yours.
  • I was hoping we could have dinner together.
3 'past' modals
The 'past' modal forms could, might, would and should usually have present or future reference; they are used as less direct, 'distanced' forms of can, may, will and shall.
  • Could you help me for a moment?
  • Would you come this way, please?
  • I think it might rain soon.
  • Alice should be here soon.

仮定法を動詞の活用だけに限定してしまうと、英語においては明白な仮定法専用の活用形が存在しないため、「be動詞wereの場合だけ仮定法で一般動詞の場合は過去時制の特殊な用法」などという何ともややこしい話になってしまいます。それで、「仮定(subjunctive)」は、動詞の単なる語形変化(subjunctive form)ではなく構文(subjunctive construction)として捉えようとされてきているようです。

The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar

However, since Modern English (unlike, say, French or Spanish) has few distinct verb forms that differentiate subjunctive verb forms from indicative verb forms, the status of the subjunctive as a verbal inflection has been challenged. Indeed, many modern frameworks prefer to speak of subjunctive constructions or subjunctive clauses. These labels then apply to the entire clause in which the 'subjunctive verb' appears.

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language

The general term subjunctive is primarily used for a verbal mood that is characteristically associated with subordinate clauses with a non-factual interpretation. We are extending the term so that it applies to a syntactic construction rather than a verb-form, but our subjunctive clauses are still characteristically subordinate and non-factual. We need a different term for 1st/3rd person singular were: we call it irrealis, a general term applying to verb moods associated with unreality (i.e. where the proposition expressed is, or may well be, false).

語形変化などによって表される「mood(法)」は、canやmustなどの法助動詞(modal verbs)によって表されるものも含めた「法性(modality)」表現の広いくくりの中の、特殊な(半ば廃れがちな)一区画的扱いになるようです。



The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar

Simplified grammar books for foreign learners often classify conditional constructions into three types according to the tense forms used:
  1. first conditional (also called the will-condition): involves a present tense verb form in the conditional clause, and will in the main clause, e.g. If I see them, I will tell them
  2. second conditional (also called the would-condition): involves a past tense verb form in the conditional clause, and would in the main clause, e.g. If I saw them, I would tell them
  3. third conditional (also called the would have-condition): involves a past perfect in the conditional clause, and would have in the main clause, e.g. If I had seen them, I would have told them
These are ordered in terms of the degree of likelihood that the condition can be fulfilled. This analysis is, however, a misleading oversimplification, as many other combinations are possible....

Practical English Usage

258 if (3): special structures with past tenses and would
1 unreal situations
We use special structures with if when we are talking about unreal situations--things that will probably not happen, situations that are untrue or imaginary, and similar ideas. In these cases, we use past tenses and would to 'distance' our language from reality.

2 if+past; would+infinitive without to
To talk about unreal or improbable situations now or in the future, we use a past tense in the if-clause (even though the meaning is present or future), and would+infinitive (without to) in the other part of the sentence.
  • If I knew her name, I would tell you.....
4 if I were etc
We often use were instead of was after if. This is common in both formal and informal styles. In a formal style were is more common than was, and many people consider it more correct, especially in American English. The grammatical name for this use of were is 'subjunctive' (see 567).
  • If I were rich, I would spend all my time travelling.
  • If my nose were a little shorter I'd be quite pretty.
259 if (4): unreal past situations
1 if + past perfect; would have + past participle
To talk about past situations that did not happen, we use a past perfect tense in the if-clause, and would have + past participle in the other part of the sentence.
  • If you had asked me, I would have told you.


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