Unit 10.2

Mixed Conditional Clauses

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.

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.

Mixed third and second conditional

Mixed third and second conditional sentence has the following structure:

If + past perfect + comma (,) + would/might/could + verb (infinitive) + …

Mixed second and third conditional

Mixed second and third conditional sentence has the following structure:

If + past simple + comma (,) + would have/could have/might have + past participle + …

First conditional

First conditionl sentence has the following structure:
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.

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.

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 bare 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 bare 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.

Exercises


Translations

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