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Which one is correct, “if you ever did it again?” or “if you ever do it again?”

The act has already been done once by a character A, much to character B’s dislike. Now, if B warns A not to repeat the act anytime in the future, what would be the correct way?

Here B tries to warn A for the future. Like a child being scolded by a mother not to spill the sauce on the carpet ever again.

Also, I would like to know how and in what context the two differs. When should one select the one of the two, are there any rules for that?

I hope that clears up a bit!

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  • What do you think is the correct choice, and why? In particular, tell us if you are trying to use "did" as some sort of subjunctive.
    – GEdgar
    Feb 19, 2021 at 16:21
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    It's impossible to answer without knowing the full sentence and context of what is being said. I can think of constructions using both "do" and "did" that might fit, depending on whether conditional, future, or some other tense is used.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 19, 2021 at 17:00
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    Which one to use depends on the context, namely what the next clause is. If it starts out like I would ... it's probly did, but if it doesn't, then do. Feb 19, 2021 at 17:01
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    Does this answer your question? Should “If I ever had a philosophy” be in the past perfect? Arguably the did version of OP's example refers to a less likely scenario, because "Past Tense" is more "remote" from the current real world of the speaker than "Present in the Future" embodied in If you do it again. Feb 19, 2021 at 18:33

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Given the example of the spilled sauce, I would say “if you ever do that again”- this usually introduces a future threat “… I will pull your arm off and beat you to death with it.”

“if you ever do that again” has an immediacy to it and usually follows the action.

“if you ever did it again” is very context dependent but mainly expresses an opinion or advice given some time after the event:

A: “Yesterday, I climbed on the roof and fixed a hole.”

B “Good… but if you ever did it again, I would suggest that you use safety equipment.”

A: "The judge fined me £250 for stealing a TV."

B: “You were lucky – but if you ever did it again, he would send you to prison.”

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  • I think we'd have to agree that If you ever do this again... has even more "immediacy" :) Feb 19, 2021 at 18:40

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