Grammar Guru: Ugh, renovation!

I hate renovating, and try to avoid it every year. So both of these options are nothing I’d look forward to. But they might be necessary. Which one uses correct grammar?

  • If we were to renovate our flat, I’d have to take a week off.
  • If we would renovate our flat, I’d have to take a week off.

Do any of you have to make changes around the house this year?

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

6 thoughts on “Grammar Guru: Ugh, renovation!”

  1. Oh, yes, Anne,
    We’d like to to rip out the carpet in our bedroom and put in a new wooden floor and a new wardrobe. I’d also like to rip out the carpet in the office and put in a nice, new wooden floor.
    There are lots of things to be done in the kitchen too …
    If you’d really like to know ….. no probelm, next time round.
    Best wishes,
    Joan

  2. You’d “like to”? Really?? Sounds positively back-breaking. – What are you going to do with all your stuff in the meantime? Are you going to close shop for a week or so, too?

    The last time I “renovated” anything was when we left Siegen, and (in order to avoid having to revarnish everything in that perfect flat) I put bowling wax on the hardwood floor to fill in the nicks. It was hilarious to see people come in and go “whoops, this is slippery. Looks great, though.” I’m a bad person. Hell’s a-waitin’.

    We have to replace some of the windows, the wooden ones have rotted through; fill cracks where the drywall has separated between the walls and the ceiling; and paint all walls and ceilings. Also, and this is the worst bit, varnish the floor in the living room. Messy. The kitchen counter needs replacing, too.

    We might even have to put things in storage, or simply throw some things out, because our basement is too small. I see the books trembling. Did I say “ugh”?

  3. I hate renovating. This year I won’t renovate anything, just bought a little blue Ikea chest of drawers for the entrance and put my pink orchid in another place, with more sun and better view.

    (I would say the first example is correct grammar).

  4. I bought an old house in the French countryside and sometimes show people a photo of the place which i took the day i moved in 18 years ago
    “Ah but you’ve done a lot of work since then, haven’t you?” they ask.
    Em…..
    If i were to renovate it would be a miracle.

  5. Right! Well, then. I see we have a lot in common.

    Ok, so, let’s get precise about the hypotheses here:

    1. If we renovated…
    we’re talking about hypothetical possibilities in the future
    In German I’d say: Wenn wir renovieren würden… I’m told that’s not good German grammar, but that’s the way people talk. Or: perhaps: Sollten wir wirklich renovieren,…

    2. If we were to renovate…
    we’re talking about hypothetical intentions for the future
    In German I’d say: Wenn wir vorhätten zu renovieren... Very iffy and hypothetical. That’s what I’d say here.

    3. If we would renovate… – no, not good.
    After all, “if + would is not good.”
    Now, “would” can be a modal verb expressing volition, i.e. the will to do something, often in a request or offer.
    This sounds ok to me:
    If our landlord would be willing to pay for the renovation himself, (this is what I hope he will offer us, I’m echoing the request) well, things would be different.
    Google “If we would” and you’ll find 282.000.000 hits.
    But this variety of “if + would” is not in the (wonderful!) Cambridge Grammar of English (Carter/McCarthy), and so, dear Englishlearner, don’t use it. It’ll be marked “wrong” in an exam!

  6. The final count is in:

    Grammar book version: If we were to renovate our flat, I’d have to take a week off. (67%, 12 votes)

    Other version: If we would renovate our flat, I’d have to take a week off. (33%, 6 votes)

    Total voters: 18

    It’s 2:1 for the grammar book!

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