Specializations > Morphosyntax

I'd check if + present tense

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Natalia:
I'd be grateful if you could tell me whether I can combine these two structures in bold to make one sentence. To me, it all sounds fine, but I just want to be sure.

Can we have a little chat now? I'd check if your Polish has improved since out last voicecall.

Daniel:
I guess that's fine, but the use of "I'd" is odd there. Do you mean "I would" (which seems awkward), or "I could" (which doesn't contract to "I'd").

Natalia:
I mean "I would". I thought this form was fine, as there is no certainity that we will talk and by using "I would" I don't feel like I'm imposing anything on the listener, as opposed to "I will check if your Polish has improved". But since it sounds odd to you, maybe it'd be better to use "I'd like to check..."?

panini:
Instead, I would say "I can/could check if your Polish has improved". Even that sounds strange, because it's hard to imagine a scenario where I (as a Polish speaker) would ever say such a thing (presumably to a non-speaker).  For example, as the non-speaker, X might say "I dunno if I'm ever learn this language. I try talking Polish to people, and they switch to English". My response should be (in some form) an invitation to X to speak some Polish, and we'll try to carry out a conversation in Polish. So I might say "Do you want to try talking Polish?" (well, more likely "Porozmawiajmy!"). The point is that if you're interested in sounding natural, your first concern has to be the message. Expressing an interest in whether a person has improved their language skills, and especially testing them on that, would be low on the list of messages that I'd ever want to send.

I suppose if I were the language-evaluator for a job that requires knowledge of Polish and I had to see if you were up to the required standard, I might maybe say something like "(In the course of the chat) I'd check if your Polish has improved". Even then, people would say "I need to check". Saying "I'd check if your Polish has improved" almost sounds like a threat.


Daniel:
Yes, what panini said. In general, the question followed by conditional "would" is somewhat odd. I understand it easily, and it's not exactly wrong, but I don't think I'd often say it, maybe not ever. What you're trying to express is something like "Can we do X? If we X, then..." but this version is awkward. There are many more natural ways to phrase it like "Let's chat. Can I see if your Polish has improved?" or "Can we chat? I'd like to see if your Polish has improved." (Assuming you're a Polish teacher and it is normal to check on Polish ability, that would be two more natural ways to phrase this.)

More generally, here's a different example with the same form:
"Can we go to the store? I'd buy some ice cream."
It's a weird mix of a request then an offer, so it doesn't seem natural. It's possible to imagine a scenario where this could be used, such as negotiating: if you drive me to the store, the I will buy you some ice cream. But this sort of phrasing is not common. More often I'd say:
"Can we go to the store? I want (or would like) some ice cream."
"I want ice cream. Let's go to the store."
etc.

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