Conditionals If + should: what tense in the main clause?

< Previous | Next >

ottaviocr

Senior Member
UK
Italian
Is there a general rule regarding main clauses in conditionals with "If [...] should"?

Let's omit the case when it is followed by an imperative:

"If you should see him, tell him I called"

This is quite clear to me. But I have seen main clauses with the simple present, the future or "would".

Example with the present tense (from my textbook):

- If you should wish to talk to me, you know where I'll be

With the future:

- If that should happen, you'll be blamed
- If the letter should arrive tomorrow,
I'll let you know straight away
- Should Sven decide to come to the festival,
I'll book him a ticket
- Should anyone wish to join us for a snack,
we'll be in the cafe' round the corner

With "would":

- Should ministers demand an inquiry, we would welcome it.

As usual, any input will be appreciated.
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    - If you should wish to talk to me, you know where I'll be
    The person addressed already knows where the speaker will be. This is a special kind of conditional, where the main clause does not in fact depend on a condition.

    If you get hungry, there are some biscuits in the cupboard.

    The biscuits won't appear by magic if the other person gets hungry. The speaker is telling the other person that there are some biscuits in the cupboard, because she knows they may get hungry later on.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Is there a general rule regarding main clauses in conditionals with "If [...] should"?
    It follows the same “rules” as conditionals in general. In most cases, if not all, the if-clause can be expressed in several different ways without that making any difference to the main clause. Each of your examples works in two more ways in addition to your version:

    So-called zero conditionals
    Should / If you see him, tell him I called
    Should / If you wish to talk to me, you know where I'll be

    Standard 1st conditionals (what will happen if…)
    Should that happen / If that happens, you'll be blamed
    Should the letter arrive / If the letter arrives tomorrow, I'll let you know straight away
    Should Sven decide / If Sven decides to come to the festival, I'll book him a ticket
    Should anyone wish / If anyone wishes to join us for a snack, we'll be in the café round the corner

    Standard 2nd conditional (what would happen if…)
    If ministers demanded / If ministers were to demand an inquiry, we would welcome it.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top