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If clauses: step 2
IF CLAUSES. POSSIBILITY and the UNREAL (of the present and of the past):
BE CAREFUL! This test is the logical sequence and complement of that lesson test. You MUST study the first one before trying this one.
This second lesson will show you how to express suppositions and regrets without making mistakes in the different tenses to use in varied circumstances; these tenses tend to be misused in daily conversation and even in the media... (Please, do not imitate!)
1) Realisable suppositions : you are imagining actions that may happen, logically, if a specified requirement is met.
- If Paul runs to the station, he'll catch the 10 o'clock train.
If + simple present => Subject + future
in the subordinate clause in the main clause.
The order of the clauses may be reversed without any consequence for the necessary tenses.
- Paul will catch the 10 o'clock train if he runs to the station.
The action isn't REAL yet, but is possible and may be realised;
The sentence expresses => a POSSIBILITY = IF + simple present=> subject + will + verb base
2) The unreal of the present (= second conditional): = expression of a wish; a supposition is expressed in the modal preterite (expressing the unreal mode in French and in English). The action is possible, but not realised yet; the expression is a wish. The possible realisation is expressed in the conditional ("second conditional"): (Subject + would + verb base.)
- He'd get his train if he ran to the station.
- If Paul ran to the station, he wouldn't miss his train. (but he isn't running now... = UNREAL mode ...) He'll miss his train unless he runs fast...)
If + modal preterite => Subject + second conditional
in the subordinate would + verb base
in the main clause
The wish, which isn't realised yet, is still realisable. The order of the clauses in the sentence doesn't change the tenses that must be used.
- The UNREAL of the PRESENT= IF + modal preterite => would + verb base
3) The UNREAL of the past: expresses a « regret », after the moment of the action, (whether the action was realised, or not! ...)
- If he had run to the station, he wouldn't have missed his train. (the action is in the past; he hasn't run; it's too late...=> he has missed his train )
This is still the UNREAL mode, but the action is in the PAST. He hasn't run and has missed his train! Too bad for him!
- The UNREAL of the PAST = IF + past perfect => would have + past participle
(Reminder! past perfect = had + past participle; past conditional =third conditional= would + have + past participle.)
There you are! You can see that it's not more difficult than the preceding lesson... The only important thing you have to do is remember the patterns of "tense agreements" and STICK to them, even if you happen to hear different tenses used in daily conversation and in the media ! Please, for your own good, do not imitate!
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