English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Consider the following:

If you were to buy this, then ask me.

Or should it be:

If you were to buy this, then you would need to ask me.

Is the use of would necessary here? If we go with the first one, doesn't it break the rules of conditional statements?

Or how would you construct the hypothetical structure of the following:

If you want to buy this, let me know.

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

If (something) then (result): if the thing is bought, then ask you about it? After it has been bought?

That doesn't accord with your final quote where the thing is not bought [merely wanted] and you can help with buying it.

For this structure,

If you want to buy this, let me know,

telling you precedes buying. So it's

If you were to buy this, you would have to have asked me [first].
If you were to buy this, you would have needed to ask me [first].

share|improve this answer
Thanks. I am asking about the hypothetical. For example: If he were to buy this, I wouldn't talk to him. ? – Noah Aug 17 '12 at 11:01
Right: then yes, you do need would (both my examples use would, as does Barrie's). – Andrew Leach Aug 17 '12 at 11:04
So the first one is wrong, right? – Noah Aug 17 '12 at 11:06
Yes, the first one is wrong. The conditional if clause needs to be followed by would. – Andrew Leach Aug 17 '12 at 11:08
Then how is this: That’s just what I was looking for, even if it isn’t a threefold distinction for me personally. Where is the second part of the if statement. Sounds fine to me, but cant untangle it grammatically. – Noah Aug 17 '12 at 11:21

The first has no meaning. The second is possible, but in isolation it’s difficult to see quite how it would be used. More likely would be If you wanted to buy this, then you would need to ask me. Your final sentence would be a perfectly reasonable response to a potential buyer.

share|improve this answer
Thanks Barrie... – Noah Aug 17 '12 at 11:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.