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tonkinka

Member
slovak
Hi guys,

we had our grammar lesson today and we were doing some exercises. One of the exercises was to fill in the correct verb forms and we had a sentence like this:
"We are lost now. If you had written down Mary´s directions, this (not/happen)............"
The correct form is "would have happened", that´s clear to me but I was just wondering if it would be possible to say: If you had written down Mary´s directions, this wouldn´t be happening. (You know, like having to find way out or something like that). Maybe it´s just mother tongue interference why I feel it can be also said this way.

Thank you very much in advance.
 
  • london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can say that too, but there is a difference in meaning between the 'classic' conditional 3 sentence and your version: this latter emphasises the fact that whatever is happening is happening now, whereas the conditional 3 sentence tells me that it has in fact already happened.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings

    What london calling writes (in # 2) is perfectly correct, but it can be amplified: any conditional with an historic protasis (i.e. the condition) can have equally historic, present, or indeed future apodosis (the consequence):

    "If you had said that, you would have regretted it"
    "If you had said that, you would (now) be regretting it"
    "If you had said that, you would (be going to) regret it tomorrow"

    Σ
     

    tonkinka

    Member
    slovak
    You can say that too, but there is a difference in meaning between the 'classic' conditional 3 sentence and your version: this latter emphasises the fact that whatever is happening is happening now, whereas the conditional 3 sentence tells me that it has in fact already happened.
    Thank you very much for you reply, I get the difference, and that´s what I was thinking of when I asked her but she told me that it wasn´t possible to construct the sentence like that. Maybe she misunderstood but I was somehow sure that it was possible to say it like that.

    Thank you once again for making it clear.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thank you very much for you reply, I get the difference, and that´s what I was thinking of when I asked her but she told me that it wasn´t possible to construct the sentence like that. Maybe she misunderstood but I was somehow sure that it was possible to say it like that.

    Thank you once again for making it clear.
    Hello Tonkinka,

    The two forms you want to consider here are these two classic combination of tenses:

    2nd conditional: If you wrote down Mary´s directions, this would not be happening - You aren't doing this now, and I'm telling you what the consequences of your failure to do it are.
    3rd conditional: If you had written down Mary´s directions, this would not have happened - You didn't do this at some moment in the past, and I'm telling you what the past consequences of your failure to do it have been.

    The form you propose is a mixed 3rd/2nd conditional. This is a standard form which takes the if-clause from the 3rd conditional, and the main clause from the 2nd.

    Mixed 3rd,2nd conditional: If you had written down Mary´s directions, this would not be happening - this form tells us about an imagined or real event in the past, and its present consequences.

    I suspect that this may all seem very complicated at first, but with practice you will get used to it, I suspect.

    Your teacher my well be trying to concentrate on the standard forms before moving on to the mixed ones. This may well explain her reaction.
     

    tonkinka

    Member
    slovak
    Hello Tonkinka,

    The two forms you want to consider here are these two classic combination of tenses:

    2nd conditional: If you wrote down Mary´s directions, this would not be happening - You aren't doing this now, and I'm telling you what the consequences of your failure to do it are.
    3rd conditional: If you had written down Mary´s directions, this would not have happened - You didn't do this at some moment in the past, and I'm telling you what the past consequences of your failure to do it have been.

    The form you propose is a mixed 3rd/2nd conditional. This is a standard form which takes the if-clause from the 3rd conditional, and the main clause from the 2nd.

    Mixed 3rd,2nd conditional: If you had written down Mary´s directions, this would not be happening - this form tells us about an imagined or real event in the past, and its present consequences.

    I suspect that this may all seem very complicated at first, but with practice you will get used to it, I suspect.

    Your teacher my well be trying to concentrate on the standard forms before moving on to the mixed ones. This may well explain her reaction.
    Thank you very much, it really isn´t complicated I get all the differences, I think. But when she told me it wasn´t possible I was just confused because I had told her that I thought of the sentence to be a mixed conditional. And she simply answered that no, that it made no sense to say it like that.

    And thank you very much for your elaborated explanation :)
     
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