mixed conditional

osbern

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, everyone

1: If you made a mistake, I would forgive you;
2: If you made a mistake, I will forgive you;

what is the difference in meaning between the above 2 sentences?

Thanks!

Osbern
 
  • sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    1) is hypothetical. It means "If at any time from now on you were to make a mistake, I would forgive you." It establishes a principle.

    2) is talking about the past, about a particular situation. It means "If you made a mistake in that particular situation, I will forgive you." I don't yet know if you made a mistake, but if it turns out that you did make a mistake, I will forgive you.
     

    osbern

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, Sound Shift

    I agree with you about no.1 in your reply. but I don't understand no.2.

    for no.2, if the action "making a mistake" happens in the past, it will be a fact, I don't think we could use "if" to make a hypothesis.

    so I think "making a mistake" is a hypothetic situation in both sentences.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In 2, you either did or didn't make a mistake. It is a fact that you did, or a fact that you didn't. However, I don't know which is true. If (in the future) I find out that you did make a mistake, then I'll forgive you.

    With the hypothetical 1, you might never have made a mistake in the past, and you might never make one in the future.
     

    ghiblie

    New Member
    Chinese
    I want to say something about #1.
    It is not saying "you might never have made a mistake in the past".
    It is "Subjunctive Mood". It is subjunctive for the present tense. That is, you might make mistake at present, but I'm willing to forgive.
     

    osbern

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    thank you everyone, to be on the safe side, I would like to give you my understanding of your comments, so I could make sure i understand it correctly.
    1): If you made a mistake, I would forgive you
    2): If you made a mistake, I will forgive you
    3): If you make a mistake, I will forgive you

    All are correct grammatically, but the meanings are different.
    1): it's the subjunctive mood, a hypothetical situation, in the future, if you make a mistake, I will forgive you, and I strongly suggest that I believe you will not make a mistake in the future;

    2): I don't know if you made a mistake or not in the past, but if it turns out that you did, I will forgive you, no doubt about it. I suggest that I believe you might have made a mistake, or you might have never made a mistake.

    3): I don't know if you will make a mistake in the future, if you do, I will forgive you. I suggest that I believe it is possible that you will make a mistake in the future.

    the differences are the speaker's attitudes to the action, and the time reference.

    right?

    thanks
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Your explanation of the three sentences makes sense to me. I think you have a good understanding of what they mean.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top