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

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How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another?

Non-native speakers often get confused about what the various tenses and aspects mean in English. With input from some of the folk here I've put together a diagram that I hope will provide some ...
31
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13answers
2k 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" ...
13
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
11
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5answers
9k 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, ...
10
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5answers
3k 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
527 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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4answers
926 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
8
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2answers
616 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
3k 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
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5answers
3k views

“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
3answers
3k 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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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
18k 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
45k 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
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5answers
934 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".
6
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2answers
1k 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
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3answers
333 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
3k views

Comma in conditional sentence and in antithesis

I've got a couple questions: Should I always put comma between condition and consequence parts, like in the following sentence: If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Should I always ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
525 views

Subjunctive and conditionals

This is another subjunctive and conditional question. I am interested in the formal, even archaic, uses, not just the modern uses (I am given to understand that the subjunctive is disappearing from ...
6
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4answers
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Placing a comma after a conditional statement

I've always had difficulties in figuring out where commas should be placed. For example, in a phrase containing a conditional statement, how should I write... If they don't arrive by noon, she'll ...
6
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4answers
297 views

Present tense and conditional tense in a stated past tense

I have a question about using past and conditional tenses in a context that refers to something told in the past. I think I’ve seen both forms used in films/books, etc., but I'm not sure about it ...
5
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2answers
2k views

Using “will” after “if”

I've been told that native-speakers don't ever use "will" after "if", and that saying it this way is a not-native style. So from the film (Harry Potter, pt5) I noticed a line that confused me. Look ...
5
votes
3answers
570 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
2answers
510 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
533 views

Why is it “could” and not “can” in the famous line: “If a face could launch a thousand ships”? [duplicate]

This is from a song lyric If a picture paints a thousand words, Then why can't I paint you? The words will never show the you I've come to know. If a face could launch a thousand ships, ...
5
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5answers
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“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 ...
5
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
432 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
150 views

When did it become common to 'double the conditional'? [duplicate]

Twins is a 1988 comedy featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as genetically engineered twins. The fact that they’re genetically engineered is used to explain the differences between ...
4
votes
6answers
25k views

“won't” vs. “wouldn't”

Are these two words interchangeable? How do you know when to use one or the other? For some sentences it is easy to know which one to use, but not for others. The type of sentences that are difficult ...
4
votes
2answers
514 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
votes
1answer
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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
votes
2answers
170 views

“If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon…”

There is an old quotation attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour, tho' he build his house in the ...
4
votes
1answer
366 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
8k 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
3answers
1k 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
6answers
618 views

Difference between “would have + past participle” and “would + bare infinitive” in the main clause of a past subjunctive sentence

I'm wondering about the difference in meaning, if any, between the two sentences in each of the following examples. Example 1. a. If he was a serious leader, tackling the debt would have been a ...
4
votes
3answers
88 views

On the verb form in the first clause of constructions using “and” to connect action and consequence

Consider the following: You do this one more time and I'll slap you. What form is "do"? I'd like to say it is the bare infinitive (see below), but I'm led to believe that it is the present ...
4
votes
4answers
787 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
48 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
556 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
335 views

“I would like that he was normal”; is this sentence correct?

I would like that he was normal. This sounds a little awkward but plausible. Is it valid English? How about another example: I would like that he bathed before going to sleep. It sounds a ...
3
votes
3answers
12k views

“If I go..” vs. “If I will go..” referring to the future [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Future tense in conditional clauses Which one is correct? option 1: If I go there, I can meet her or option 2: If I will go there, I can meet her I clearly ...
3
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4answers
5k 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
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3answers
2k 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
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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 ...