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This week’s blog is about mixed conditionals. We sometimes mix the structure of conditional sentences. Generally, this is done by mixing the second and third conditionals.

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Firstly it is important to know the structure of these conditionals.
The 2nd Conditional is: “If + Past Simple + Would Do”.
The 3rd Conditional is: “If + Past Perfect + Would Have Done”.
When we are thinking about an action in the past and the consequence of that action now, we use the following construction:

If + Past Perfect + Would Do (Would Be Doing).
This is a mixture of the 3rd Conditional and the 2nd Conditional. Here are some examples: “f I had gone to bed early last night, I would feel better now”. This means that I didn’t go to bed early last night and therefore I don’t feel well now. The action is in the past but it has a consequence now. The result now is how I feel.

“If they had eaten breakfast, they wouldn’t be hungry now”. This sentence means that they did not eat breakfast and therefore the result now is that they are feeling hungry. Again, the action happened in the past and the result is being felt now.
“If you hadn’t studied for the exam, you would not be able to take it today”. In this example, it is clear that the person has studied and therefore they will be able to do the exam now.

When we are thinking about a situation in the present and the consequence of that situation now, we use this construction: “If + Past Simple + Would Have Done (Would Have Been Doing).

This construction is one that most people find more difficult to understand. Usually, when we use this conditional, the present situation is a general one, meaning one that doesn’t really change. For example, “If he wasn’t the boss’s son, he would have been sacked”. Clearly he will always be the boss’s son and therefore this present situation is a general one. In this example you can see the construction uses the past simple followed by ‘would have’ and a past participle.

Here is another example: “If you weren’t so busy these days, you would have been able to come to dinner last night”. This means that the person is generally busy and this present situation has a result in the past, in this case the person was not able to attend dinner the night before because they are generally busy.
One more example of this is: “If he was a politician, he would not have given us a straight answer”. This means that he is not a politician and therefore did give us a straight answer. The present situation, affected what happened in the past.
Practise these constructions as they are often used.

G. Harman

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