Conditional (mixed)? if you were paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.

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casino

Senior Member
Japan
The following examples are taken from a novel and a screenplay:

(1) You know, if you were paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
(2) If she were working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story.

Can we say "if you paid" or "if she worked" in (1) and (2)?
I wonder why the past progressives are used in (1) and (2).

Casino
 
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    My understanding:
    I think because the things in the result clauses happened within the duration of the if-clauses.

    you weren't paying attention _______l___________
    it happened

    She wasn't working with Monnetti _____________l___
    He didn't protect her with a reasonably plausible story


    Past simple may give different implications.


    Tom
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    (1) You know, if you were paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    (2) If she were working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story.
    Can we say "if you paid" or "if she worked" in (1) and (2)?
    I wonder why the past progressives are used in (1) and (2).
    I know why casino asked this. This usage (special kind of mixed conditional) is one grammatical "blind corner" most grammar books miss. Many grammar books cover basic patterns of "mixed conditional" but don't cover the cases of what I'd call "confused tenses in the speaker's mind," which often appear in daily conversations.


    (1) If you were paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [PRESENT PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]

    (3) If you paid attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happend.
    [PRESENT---SIMPLE PAST]

    (2) If she were working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PRESENT PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]
    (4) If she worked for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PRESENT---SIMPLE PAST]

    All of the above sentences are examples of "confused tenses." If you follow the grammar books, they should be

    (5) If you had paid attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [SIMPLE PAST---SIMPLE PAST]

    (6) If you had been paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [PAST PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]


    (7) If she had worked for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [SIMPLE PAST---SIMPLE PAST]
    (8) If she had been working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PAST PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]

    Native speakers, please correct me if I made mistakes in my claim.
    I'd like to see more grammar books cover this "confused tenses" type of "mixed conditional," which has been unfortunately rarely coverd so far.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    It did occur to me, but thought it wasn't really the problem as the question pertains to simple versus continuous.
    I know why casino asked this. This usage (special kind of mixed conditional) is one grammatical "blind corner" most grammar books miss. Many grammar books cover basic patterns of "mixed conditional" but don't cover the cases of what I'd call "confused tenses in the speaker's mind," which often appear in daily conversations.


    (1) If you were paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [PRESENT PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST] this is not past simple it is past continuous
    (3) If you paid attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happend.
    [PRESENT---SIMPLE PAST]
    (2) If she were working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PRESENT PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]same here it's past continuous
    (4) If she worked for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PRESENT---SIMPLE PAST]





    All of the above sentences are examples of "confused tenses." If you follow the grammar books, they should be


    (5) If you had paid attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [SIMPLE PAST---SIMPLE PAST]
    (6) If you had been paying attention to your assignment, it wouldn't have happened.
    [PAST PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]

    (7) If she had worked for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [SIMPLE PAST---SIMPLE PAST]
    (8) If she had been working for Moretti, he would have protected her with a reasonably plausible story. [PAST PROGRESSIVE---SIMPLE PAST]





    Native speakers, please correct me if I made mistakes in my claim.
    I'd like to see more grammar books cover this "confused tenses" type of "mixed conditional," which has been unfortunately rarely coverd so far.
    As for the main points of your post, I think you're quite right.
    Native English speakers, especially of American variant of English, often use present subjunctive where past subjunctive is normally prescribed (at least from a technical point of view) in the if clauses.

    I was wondering about this once. I've asked, and found out that it's used mainly in the everyday language, and, as one member said, the present subjunctive implies more recent past.

    You may find this thread of use:
    If it had not been for = If it weren't for


    Tom
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You may also find this link useful. They have examples of every sort of mixed "contrary to fact" or "unreal" conditonals, as the examples you discuss are sometimes called.

    Links to pages on other subjects related to conditionals are on the sidebar.
     
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