I learned Chinese as a child. I can write Chinese now.

If I want to combine these 2 sentences into one with the subjunctive mood, which sentence showed below is correct?

If I hadn't had learned Chinese as a child, I wouldn't be able to write it now.


If I hadn't had learned Chinese as a child, I wouldn't have been able to write it now.

Thanks for the reply.

  • 1
    Neither is correct; "hadn't had" is ungrammatical in that context. Simply use "hadn't" instead. – Robusto Feb 18 at 3:32
  • Why are you negating the two sentences in your rewritten version? If all you want to do is (syntactically) put them into the subjunctive, then they would remain in the positive: If I had learned Chinese as a child, I would be able to write it now. – Jason Bassford Feb 18 at 17:53
  • Thank you all guys. I was confused by the "would have ..." and reflectively replaced "would" with "had" in the "if ..." sentence. After much thought, I understand where the problem is. – Asasin Feb 19 at 1:14

The construct that you are trying to form is called a conditional. The first sentence is in simple past and the second sentence is in simple present, so the 2nd conditional is what you need.

If I didn't learn Chinese as a child, I wouldn't be able to write it.

You only need to use the 3rd conditional if you want to imagine what would have happened if the past were to have been altered. Also, here's some additional notes I wrote describing the three conditionals.

1st conditional: Present -> Certain Future

If I buy a pizza, I will need to spend money.

2nd conditional: Unreal Present -> Future or Unreal Past -> Present

I don't have a million dollars. However, if I had a million dollars, I would invest it in hedge funds.

I went to elementary school. I am in high school. However, if I didn't go to elementary school, I wouldn't be in high school.

3rd Conditional: Unreal Past A -> Hypothetical Past B

I didn't buy car insurance. I was in a lot of trouble.

If I had bought car insurance, I wouldn't have been in a lot of trouble.

  • 1
    Why have you changed the verb to 'didn't'? 'If I hadn't learned Chinese as a child' is perfectly fine, as Robusto says. – Kate Bunting Feb 18 at 9:15

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