So recently I've came across a sentence like the following:

"If you (have) ruined my skirt, I will slap you."

A possible context for this could be a situation where you had given a skirt to your friend and when she came back with it, she looks nervous and you think something happened to the skirt.

Anyone I've asked is telling this sentence looks correct, and I think it's correct too, but I don't know the reason. As far as I know, you can't mix type 1 and type 2 conditionals, so it should be probably "If you ruined my skirt, I would slap you".

So my question is: why or why not is this sentence correct?

  • 1
    It is correct provided you are speaking with real intent, in circumstances where the other party may well have ruined your skirt. E.g."If you (have) ruined my skirt, I will slap you". However if you are speaking hypothetically it needs to be "If you (ever) ruined my skirt, I WOULD slap you". May I suggest you think again about slapping someone however - there can be consequences. – WS2 Jun 26 '18 at 14:42
  • The context is theoretical of course :). I agree with you and I'm glad to see that you too think the sentence is correct - however I'm more confused about why is the sentence correct - since it does not fit in with anything I've ever learned about the rules of conditionals. e.g.: englisch-hilfen.de/en/grammar/if.htm – htamas Jun 26 '18 at 14:53
  • What they teach in EFL classes is a greatly simplified system of English conditionals, which isn't anywhere near as complex as the real system in standard English, and leaves out a lot of variations that native English speakers use. (And once you've learned the simplified system, I expect you have to completely forget it and start over to understand the real system.) – Peter Shor Jun 26 '18 at 15:02
  • @PeterShor I agree with you, but I could not find any advanced resource that would explain it. Maybe you can show something that can help us out? – htamas Jun 26 '18 at 15:05
  • I think of there being two types of conditionals, real and unreal. You can mix an arbitrary if clause and an arbitrary main clause, but they have to belong to the same type of conditional. In if you (have) ruined my skirt, I will slap you, both types are real. In if you ruined my skirt, I would slap you, both types are unreal. And if you ruined my skirt references the past for real conditionals, and the present for unreal conditionals. – Peter Shor Jun 26 '18 at 16:14

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