An independent clause that refers to a hypothetical situation contingent on another set of circumstance.

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5answers
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How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another?

Non-native speakers often get confused about what the tenses in English mean. With input from some of the folk here I've put together a diagram that I hope will provide some clarity on the matter. I ...
31
votes
13answers
1k views

Why do I instinctively want to use the present tense with a conditional?

My boss is not a native speaker of English, so he often asks me to correct his writing. The problem is, he wants me to explain why I make changes, and doesn't accept "it just sounds better that way" ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

“whether” vs. “if ” [duplicate]

How can I know when should I use whether or if in a sentence? I can not see any difference between whether and if. When should I use each? For me, they are the same and I am not sure if there is a ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

“When I am 18, I will…” or “When I will be 18, I will…” [duplicate]

Should I say: When I am 18, I'll take my driving test or When I'll be 18, I'll take my driving test Which one is the correct sentence?
10
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2answers
464 views

How does the false-conditional work in “I made sandwiches if you want some”?

This use of "if" has a completely different meaning than its normal conditional meaning. Can someone explain to me how this construction works, and provide other examples of this sort of thing?
10
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5answers
5k views

Future tense in conditional clauses

All the textbooks I have ever come across during the course of my studying English emphasize that future tense should not be used in conditional clauses. For example, If it rains in the evening, ...
8
votes
3answers
737 views

“Would have” in conditional clauses

I have been taught to use the if I had form in conditional clauses referring to the past: If the president had asked me, I would have told him the same thing. As far as I can tell though, the ...
8
votes
2answers
467 views

Is this an imperative sentence?

Is this sentence an imperative sentence, or does it have conditional meaning? You hang around with riffraff like the Weasleys and that Hagrid, and it’ll rub off on you.
8
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2answers
2k views

“Will have” vs. “Would have”

By the end of the year, I would have attended this school for five years. Of course, the "most" correct way of writing this would be: By the end of the year, I will have attended this school ...
8
votes
4answers
983 views

Usage of 'had been' or 'were'

I was doing an exercise. I completed the sentence as following. If you were my child, I would have demanded that such an irresponsible teacher be fired. But the answer given in the book is ...
7
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3answers
2k views

Different conditional clauses — “if you saw”, “if you were to see”, “if you had seen”

Given the following sentences, what is the difference between the conditional clauses in them? If you saw a lion in a thick forest, what would you do? If you were to see a lion in a thick ...
7
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5answers
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“If I knew you're coming I wouldn't have come”

Is the statement If I knew you're coming I wouldn't have come correct? Should we use If I had known you're coming, I wouldn't have come instead? Please consider American-British ...
7
votes
5answers
818 views

What's the tense for repetitive past action?

In English, "would" usually denotes a conditional voice. "If I were sleepy, I would go to bed." But I've caught myself using it to denote repetitive or habitual past action. "On Thursdays, we would ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

“It would be better if you drink/drank all the water”

Which one of the following is grammatically correct? It would be better if you drink all the water. It would be better if you drank all the water. The question is, obviously, about the use ...
6
votes
3answers
31k views

When should I use “Would”, “Would have”, “Will”, and “Will have”?

I hope someone, once and for all, can clarify (with examples) the difference in usage of will vs. would vs. would have vs. will have.
6
votes
2answers
998 views

Use of “should have” in conditional sentences

In Return of the Soldier (1918) I came across what appears to be a conditional sentence: I never should have got this telegram if me and my husband hadn't been down there last September and told ...
6
votes
3answers
272 views

Conditionals with multiple verbs

I'm an ESL teacher. Normally I teach lower intermediate but I also teach a mixed level grammar review class. I pride myself on being able to explain things clearly but today I found myself in THREE ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Using “if” or not in a sentence structure when expressing doubt

I use the following sentence construction a lot. I'm not sure if this is right. I was not aware of any problem until recently I noticed that quite a few of my colleagues used it a little ...
5
votes
3answers
399 views

“Even were he not to…”

I am currently reading "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" by P.K. Dick and I have come across a grammatical structure I don't quite understand. The excerpt is the following (no spoilers, don't ...
5
votes
5answers
768 views

Is it correct to say: “I would do something, be it me”?

I mean that "I would do something, if it only were me. But it was not me, so I've done nothing".
5
votes
2answers
490 views

Future tense usage: “When you see it …”

I wonder why the phrase is "When you see it you will shit brix," and not "When you will see it you will shit brix." Is the version with two will incorrect? What grammar rule says that you should not ...
5
votes
2answers
8k views

“I would have never said” vs. “I would never say”

I know a lot of questions have been asked about would or would have but I haven't found any answers that help me understand this three-party conversation, with C possibly a native speaker: A: How ...
5
votes
1answer
346 views

If I was an airline pilot vs. If I had been an airline pilot 10 years ago

In a comment signed by Martha, she wrote that: "If I was an airline pilot" and "If I were an airline pilot" have different meanings. The latter is the subjunctive case (and presumably what ...
4
votes
2answers
439 views

Conditionals in the future

My colleague and I have a hot discussion about which is correct. My version is: If you don't fix the bug I will send you a patch. and his one is: I would send you a patch if you don't fix ...
4
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3answers
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Conditional + Let you know

The context is that a group of us asked a friend to come and have a breakfast, instead of study for a test (bad influence, I know). Initially she said she wouldn't come, but after some badgering on ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Speculative conditional: Why does it use the past tense or past perfect tense?

We use simple past to state a hypothetical present situation that we would like to speculate about (If they were here, I would be happy), past perfect for a hypothetical past (had they been here, I ...
4
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3answers
5k views

'Provided that' followed by two conditions

In a sentence where 'provided that' is followed by two conditions, is a second instance of 'that' required, optional or wrong? 1: [statement A], provided that [statement B] and [statement C] ...
4
votes
1answer
774 views

Conditional sentences not starting with “if”

Were I rich, I would live on Long Island. If I were rich, I would live on Long Island. Is the first sentence still used, or is used in particular contexts (in example, to give emphasis to the ...
4
votes
4answers
8k views

“If I didn't have” vs. “if I hadn't had”

Can someone please tell me if these sentences are correct? I prefer number one. Here I am trying to talk about a past condition that didn't actually happen because the person had the example sentences ...
4
votes
1answer
272 views

Trouble with second conditionals (with **could**)

"I would do B if you could do A." This is a statement which has been bothering me for quite a while. I come across such statements often and, to me, they make no sense. Could is the subjunctive of ...
4
votes
3answers
876 views

What's an example of good style for an “if/then” statement?

I'm not sure what's common for conditional statements, with and without alternative consequent clauses, in speech—even my own—but as a computer programmer, I'm niggled whenever I have to write English ...
4
votes
4answers
568 views

Can the Future Perfect be used in a main clause of a conditional sentence that has a stative/non-action verb in the if-clause?

A student asked me this question today about a sentence like: (1) If Canada's population is 40 million, the Canadian economy will have been more dynamic. I was asked if it corresponded, in a future ...
4
votes
0answers
47 views

Contrary-to-fact conditionals usage error [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “If I would have lost you” vs “If I had lost you” My question is about a usage error involving contrary-to-fact conditionals. Instead of something like this: If I knew ...
4
votes
3answers
174 views

If I were him, I would doubt if she (is/was/were?) serious about this relationship

Which one is correct? If I were him, I would doubt if she is serious about this relationship. If I were him, I would doubt if she was serious about this relationship. If I were him, I would doubt if ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

“would love/like to” usage?

What is the difference between the sentences "I would love/like to play cricket" and " I want to play cricket." Is there any difference in the moods?
3
votes
6answers
1k views

How to correctly write this conditional phrase?

I’m struggling with a conditional clause. This one is easy: If I were you, I would do xyz ... But I have these three statements: I was a student. It was my vacation. My professor ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

When is “will” used in an “if” clause?

Given the following sentences that use will in the if clause (which is seldom with if-clauses and therefore, I'm not sure they all are even grammatical or not). If you will/would kindly lend me ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Is the conditional a mood or a tense?

Is the conditional a mood or a tense? I've heard it described in both ways. It seems more like a mood as it is often lumped with hypothetical constructions and the subjunctive mood. I could see it ...
3
votes
3answers
237 views

“If it was not cold, I would like more” — conditional

Now I'm having hard time on something. I ate something yesterday and it was cold. Now grammatically, it must be If it was not cold, I would like it more. But I feel like it does not sound right, ...
3
votes
2answers
247 views

Perfect tenses in conditionals

Why does one sometimes use the perfect tense in conditions of the first type? Say, I will do something if you have done something. I did something when he had done something. instead of, ...
3
votes
5answers
3k views

A conditional sentence with present perfect

Is it correct to say: If you have finished it by then, I'll come and take it. thus using the present perfect in the "if" clause to mean the future instead of the present?
3
votes
2answers
272 views

Tense agreement in conditional statements: “I could do whatever I want” vs. “I could do whatever I wanted”

Consider the following sentences: If I had my own place, I could do whatever I want. If I had my own place, I could do whatever I wanted. She said I could do whatever I want. She ...
3
votes
4answers
502 views

Past conditional statements

What is the difference between the following two statements? If I went home for dinner, I took a glass of soft drink. If I went home for dinner, I would take a glass of soft drink. Are both ...
3
votes
2answers
947 views

Must conditional sentences begin with “if?”

I've been looking at conditional sentences (conditional clauses). Every example I've see is along the lines of, "if [x] then [y]." I've seen alternatives/substitutes for the if part: were I ...
3
votes
5answers
187 views

Right tense for conditional event in nondescript time?

What is the right tense to describe an event that might have occured, be occuring or occur in the future, if (not) for something that happened in the past? Unike, in the examples, which anchor the ...
3
votes
2answers
236 views

Wording an 'If-Then' Statement Tense

I need help phrasing the last part of this conditional sentence (assume I can't change the first conditional statement): If I died tomorrow, I would have wanted to go skydiving. or If I ...
3
votes
2answers
111 views

Should “If I ever had a philosophy” be in the past perfect?

Excerpted from The Hills of Triumph: If I ever had a philosophy with which to govern my social life, even long after learning that social is often at the detriment of personal, it would have been ...
3
votes
3answers
515 views

3rd conditional plus 2nd conditional?

"If you had seen him as a child, you would agree that he is extraordinary." In this sentence, changing the past perfect to simple past strikes me as wrong, and changing the "would agree" to "would ...
3
votes
2answers
372 views

“when” + conditional sentence + tense

1: She said she would do it when she came home. 2: She said she would do it when she comes home. Which is correct, and why?
3
votes
1answer
52k views

“have been” versus “had been” in questions [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another? "I can tell that he's not English, but I wouldn't had been able to tell that he's french if you didn't ...