Unit 10.2



Mixed Conditional Clauses

Complex Clauses

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Introduction

A conditional sentence is usually composed by two parts: the if-clause (or conditional clause) that expresses the condition, and the main clause that expresses the consequence of that condition.

We have different structures for conditionals. {see Zero Conditional, First Conditional A2 level and Second Conditional, Third Conditional B1 level}

Mixed conditionals refer to conditional sentences that include two different types of conditional modals and are unreal conditional sentences that are different than the time in the main-clause.

Form

There are several types of mixed conditionals:

  1. Mixed third and second conditional:
    If + past perfect + comma (,) + would/might/could + verb (infinitive) + …
  2. Mixed second and third conditional:
    If + past simple + comma (,) + would have/could have/might have + past participle + …
  3. First conditional:
    If + present simple + comma (,) + may/might/should/can/will + verb (infinitive) + …

Example

  1. If you hadn’t been an alcoholic, you wouldn’t suffer from alcoholism.
  2. If he hadn’t such a brusque character, he would have had a girlfriend.
  3. If you learn how to stand up, you may not fall down in the future.
  4. They would have felt the happiness if they were not such angry people. (extra sentence)

Use

We use mixed conditionals in different meanings:

  1. Mixed third and second conditional to make a comparison between past and present (it does not matter whether it is real or imaginary);
  2. Mixed second and third conditional to talk about an ongoing situation and the correlation between an ongoing situation and the past;
  3. First conditional to talk about possible acts in future.

Summary

Mixed conditionals refer to conditional sentences that include two different types of conditional modals. They are unreal conditional sentences that are different than the time in the main-clause. {see Zero Conditional, First Conditional A2 level and Second Conditional, Third Conditional B1 level}

There are several types of mixed conditionals and are used for different reasons:

  1. Mixed third and second conditional to make a comparison between past and present;
  2. Mixed second and third conditional to talk about an ongoing situation and the correlation between an ongoing situation and the past;
  3. First conditional to talk about possible acts in future.

Their structure is:

  1. We start with the word if followed by a past perfect clause, a comma, a clause with would, might, or could and a verb in the infinitive form.
  2. We start with the word if followed by a past simple clause, a comma, a clause with would have/could have/might have and a past participle
  3. We start with the word if followed by a present simple clause, a comma, a clause with may, might, should, can or wil, and a verb in the infinitive form.

For example:
— If she had taken a pain killer, she would feel better now.” = We are contrasting the past event (of taking a pain killer) with the present result of that event, which is feeling better.
— If he wasn’t so rude, she would have invited him to her wedding.” = We are correlating an ongoing situation (namely, him being rude) with the previous past event her wedding.
— If I don’t practice every day, I may never become a professional dancer.” = We are talking about the possible future act of becoming a professional dancer.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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