generation to generation — / had almost said from century to century. T i m e s, No. 1976, 896a.
Also in other connections the use of almost, or some equivalent adverb, sometimes seems to be the occasion of the periphrastic pluperfect conditional being avoided.
Oolfs heart turned faint within him, and he had well-nigh let go his hold. Wash Irv., Dolf Heyl. (Stof., Hand!., I, 128). My brother had very nearly succeeded in hls suit. Thack., P e n d, I, Ch. VII, 85.
b) I had not thought (or dreamed, etc.) is not, apparently, unfrequently used instead of the grammatically more correct ƒ should not have thought (or dreamed), etc.
I had not thought. . . that the convent bred such good horsemen. Scott, Abbot, Ch. XXXVI, 404.
He had not dream'd she was so beautiful. Ten, Lanc. and El. 351.
Compare: / shouldn't have thought it of you. Frank Swinnerton, Nocturne, III, Ch. XII, VI, 259. e) Very common is the use of / thought and especiaily / did not think and / never thought, the preterite taking the place of the pluperfect conditional (I should have thought, etc). / did not think we had been so near Scotland. Sweet, N. E. O r, § 2247. / didn't think her romance could have made her so damned absurd either, Sher., R i v, IV, 3.
1 thought you would have been pleased. Dick, D o m b, Ch. III, 25. 1 never thought to have seen this day. Thack., Van. Fair, I, Ch. XIV, 138. / didn't think men were fond of putting poor harmiess girls to pain. ib, Ch. IV, 28.
/ never thought Harry Warrington would have joined against us. id, Virg, Ch. XCII, 984.
IV. The apodosis may express an actual fact and, accordingly, have its predicate in the indicative, although the protasis expresses a case which the speaker knows to be contrary to fact.
Surely if they had been zealous to pluck a brand from the burnlng, here was a noble opportunlty. W. Gunnyon, Biograph. Sketch of Burns, 41.
V. The periphrastic conditional often has a down-toning force, all notion of a rejected condition being, as a rule, practicaOy absent from the speaker's mind. As such we find it largely used
a) to impart modesty or diffidence to 1) a wish, a request or a question.
I should like to go for a walk. He says he would like to go for a walk. I should like a glass of water. He says he would like a glass of water. Wouldn't you rather have a cup of tea? Sweet, N. E. Gr, § 2285.