I would be thankful if you could let me know if below sentence is a conditional type I sentence or not.
It is becoming more evident that unless we find ways of producing more food, we could be faced with a serious food crisis.
In the main clause we have verb’find’ which is in simple present form but in the main clause an auxiliary verb+be+pp, and this is the part that confuses me.
In a typical conditional type I sentences we must follow below formula:
If clause simple present, main clause simple future like
If I have time, I will come with you.
But the one I sent above is not familiar to me.
Making it simpler:
Unless we find ways of producing more food, we could be faced with\face a serious food crisis. (= have a crisis in prospect).
‘Could’ used here to express future possibility, a Passive construction ‘could be faced with’ changes nothing in the way how you read it. To me its Conditional 1, pure and simple.
Traditionally, we have three types of conditional sentences exemplified as below:
If I have time, I will come with you. (Type I)
If I had time, I would come with you. (Type II)
If I had had time, I would have come with you. (Type III)
(In today’s English, especially on this forum, the verb in the main clause of No. 1 can also be ‘would come’ and the verb in the conditional clause in No.3 can be ‘had time’, but formal English, I still think, does not consider it to be so)
We also have the fourth type which admits of scientific facts etc as in:
If you heat water, it vapourizes.
If you combine two units of hydrogen and one unit of oxygen, you get water.
If you bring two like poles together, they repel.
It’s not an abnormal structure. It’s very common. Perhaps, you didn’t notice it.
Any ‘could (modal)+be+PP’ is passive in nature.
See these examples:
You could be told about this structure.
You can be told about this structure.
The question could not be answered by the student.
The question cannot be answered by the student.
The letter could be read by any person.
The letter can be read by any person.
He may be permitted.
He might be permitted.
She can be taught English.
She could be taught English.
The meeting will be held soon.
The meeting would be held soon
Many examples of this structure can be given.
Many examples of this structure could be given.
In the first reply Eugene2114 wrote:‘Could’ used here to express future possibility, and now you are telling me that “It could be future (can) and past (could)” :’’’’(((
Based on what Eugene2114 said “could be faced” is indicating a possibility in the future but considering what you said if I want to express this concept I must say
“Can be faced”
I am completely confuse and would be thankful if you could make it clear.
I’m sorry, my dear friend. The use of ‘could’ can be (could be) really confusing as I have already said. Now please look at these examples:
Could you lend me your pen? (‘could’ indicates politeness and immediate future here)
You could lend a pen whenever someone needed one. (Here you will find ‘could’ functioning for past)
You could lend a pen when needed. (Here you will find ‘could’ functioning for present, past and future)
For past, however, we may use ‘could’ in a question as in: Could you complete the assignment within the allotted time yesterday?
But, if you completed the assignment (realized/did something) we use ‘was/were able to’ rather than ‘could’ as in ‘I was able to complete the assignment within the allotted time yesterday’. Here ‘I could complete the assignment … .’ is not readily acceptable.
I thought some native speaker of English would come to our rescue. Maybe, they are watching this discussion. Meanwhile, I shall offer my own observations here.
Your sentences are in the passive voice. Their corresponding active forms, as you know, are: She can play the violin and She could play the violin.
Usually sentences with ‘can’ and ‘could’ expressing ability, as far as I have understood, are not passivized.
1- A violin can be played by her. (This can mean: She will be able to play the violin/She is able to play the violin/She is skilled in playing the violin/She is capable of playing the violin etc)
2- A violin could be played by her. (This can mean: She was able to play the violin/It was possible for her to play the violin. And, tentatively, she would be able to play the violin when there was a chance etc.)
Note that ‘Can you hear me?’ relates to the present and ‘Could you hear me?’ relates to the past (meaning 'Were you able to hear me? which is good English) while ‘Can you lend me your pen?’ and ‘Could you lend me your pen?’ mean more or less the same with the latter (Could you lend me your pen?) being more polite and tentative in nature.
(From this discussion you would/could/should/must have guessed that modals are a hard nut to crack, generally. Nevertheless, I appreciate your inquisitive mind and thank you for your patience)
What has not been mentioned in this section on can/could may/might. shall/should will/would is that these so-called ‘past’ forms are the closest English comes to the subjunctive and in that form time is not relevant.