2rd conditional/3rd conditional

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Senior Member

I ´ve finished reading a book from Stephen King - The Body. Even though I enjoyed reading it there were a few sentences which surprised me a bit. S. King uses the third conditional often however there are two sentences where is the second whereas I would expect the third:

Chris and Teddy were a long way in front, almost halfway across the bridge. Vern was between them and me. I had to go on. If I turned back, I would be a pussy for life. - Here I would use the third - any thoughts why the writer decided to use the second?

He was dead and he was all alone, and I realized that if I didn't stop thinking about it I was going to cry.

I rewrote a part of one chapter to show you in what style the book was written.

<Thank you for taking the time to provide useful context, but this exceeds our 4-sentence limit on quotation from a single work.
Cagey, moderator. >

Thank you.
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  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    The sentences are predictions, a kind of reported speech, and not about hypothetical events in the past.
    In (1) the writer is thinking to himself, 'If I turn back, I'll be a pussy for life.' If I'd turned back, I'd have been... is possible. But it would be more like a mere statement of fact. It wouldn't take us into the narrator's mind so much.
    (2) is similar. He was thinking, 'If I don't stop thinking about it, I'm going to cry.' There's also the reporting verb realized. (Personally I'd have written I would cry and not I was going to cry.)
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