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If you tripped every time someone mentions your name, you would have been dead by now.

My question is about the subordinate clause of the above sentence, "If you tripped everytime someone mentions your name...". Is the mixture of the subjunctive tripped and the indicative mentions correct?

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1 Answer 1

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It should be:

"If you tripped every time someone mentioned your name, you would be dead by now"

or

"If you had tripped every time someone mentioned your name, you would have been dead for ten years by now". Subjunctive requires the past or past perfect.

The tenses must follow the proper sequence of tenses. One cannot mix "if you tripped" and "mentions your name" and "would have been dead by now" (this would have to be "would have died by now" to match "tripped" and "mentioned").

The sequence of tenses is difficult.

"If you trip every time someone mentions your name, you will die soon"

is a present conditional.

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Thanks for your answer. –  Sherlock Oct 9 '12 at 11:05
2  
"If you were to trip every time..." –  FumbleFingers Oct 9 '12 at 12:11
    
@FumbleFingers: Yes, that's the standard subjunctive form. I don't see why this ambiguous past tense form can't be used as a subjunctive as long as we understand that it's a hypothetical & not talking about something that happened in the past. *_If I was rich, I would have bought a Rolls_ is wrong; should be If I had been rich, I would have bought a Rolls and If I were rich, I would buy a Rolls. If I was rich, I don't remember it is okay, though. –  user21497 Oct 9 '12 at 12:38
    
"If you tripped every time someone mentioned your name, you should be dead by now" and "If you tripped every time someone mentioned your name, you were definitely a klutz" are past conditionals. In the 1st, the condition has been met, but the consequence hasn't occurred. –  user21497 Oct 9 '12 at 12:45
    
@BillFranke: In your example "If you had tripped every time someone mentioned your name, you would have been dead for ten years by now", would it be the same if I put had in ". . . every time someone had mentioned your name . . ."? –  Sherlock Oct 9 '12 at 14:09

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