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I was driving with my dad and we saw a bumper sticker that said:

If my dog doesn't like you, then neither do I

My dad said a more grammatically correct version would be:

If my dog doesn't like you, then neither would I

I think the first is better because 'doesn't' and 'do' are both in the present tense, while in his version 'doesn't' and 'would' are in different tenses. He says that the statement is conditional and the 'if' requires an increment of time for its answer to be fulfilled - at that point in the statement, it should become future tense.

  • I think the second should be "If my dog wouldn't like you, then neither would I." – developerwjk Aug 24 '16 at 21:35
  • I agree with you, rather than with your dad. His version does not sound idiomatic to me - as a British person. Though I am aware that Americans make more use of would. And I would certainly say If my dog didn't like you then neither would I. – WS2 Aug 24 '16 at 22:42
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    You're right about the verb tenses, but the tenses (i.e., the verb forms) have nothing to do with it. Would is past tense, but it's use here is modal to express possibility about the situation. You could also say, "If my dog doesn't like you, then I won't either." The reason that the bumper sticker is "right" is that it declares the certainty of the owner based not on your qualities, but on the owner's dog's judgment. Which is supposed to make the claim amusing. – deadrat Aug 25 '16 at 0:53
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Both examples are grammatical. As already mentioned, context is everything. In a different context one will always find a different, but still grammatical, way of saying something.

e.g.

  • Come pay us a visit on Sunday, but remember: if my dog doesn't like you, neither will my children.
  • I'm glad my dog likes you a lot. If my dog didn't like you, neither would I.
  • My dog's attitude towards strangers reflects perfectly my own. If my dog doesn't like someone, neither do I. Simple as that.
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Your dad is wrong.

And the first sentence does not have to be read as a "conditional," but as a statement of fact, with if meaning since.

Since my dog doesn't like you, (then) neither do I.

Even if we read the first sentence as a conditional, it is talking about a present real situation, so the present tense is used in the "then" clause. The driver doesn't know if his dog likes you or not but if the dog doesn't, then neither does the driver. This is not talking about a hypothetical situation, but about a real situation. The driver, in this conditional, is not sure whether the dog likes you or not, but whether the dog likes you or not is an actual (not hypothetical) situation.

I wouldn't use would in the "then clause" unless the sentence was talking about a hypothetical situation:

If my dog didn't like you, then neither would I.

Here, the if-clause is not taking about a real situation but an unreal one, and thus the sentence is hypothetical. In actuality, the dog does like you. I am talking about a hypothetical situation in which my dog doesn't like you.

Another interpretation of this conditional is that it is talking about a past real situation, and what I said about the present real condition applies here, except in the past. The use of would in this case refers to repeated or habitual action in the past.

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I think they're both grammatical, and pretty similar in meaning.

A conditional doesn't require an increment of time. Consider:

If it's raining, then the ground is wet.

Context indicates whether you need to use a future tense, e.g.

If it starts to rain, the ground will get wet.

would tends to be used more often with counter-factual conditions, e.g.

If it had been raining, I would have been drenched.

  • Yes, and If my dog hadn't liked you, then neither would I (have liked you). – WS2 Aug 24 '16 at 22:20

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