Mixed conditional sentence in English

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mixed conditional sentence in English
mixed conditional sentence in English

This post helps us understand what a mixed conditional sentence is and how to form and use it correctly.

What is a mixed conditional sentence in English?

A mixed conditional sentence is a conditional sentence that mixes two different times to show a hypothetical situation (condition) and its result. When the condition clause (IF clause) and the result clause refer to different times, the sentence resulting from it is called a mixed conditional sentence.

It refers to a condition in a certain time and its result in a different time.  It is used to talk about a hypothetical situation. These sentences (mixed conditional) are uniquely different from the usual 4 types of conditional sentences: type 0, type 1, type 2, and type 3.

Here in mixed conditional sentences, the condition can refer to the present, past, or future, and similarly, the result can also refer to the present, past, or future. 

Note that both the clauses won’t refer to the same time. If they do, you can’t call the result of it a mixed conditional sentence. 

Mixed conditional sentence in English
Mixed conditional sentence in English

Types of mixed conditional sentences

  • Past condition + present result
  • Past condition + future result
  • Present condition + past result
  • Present condition + future result
  • Future condition + past result
  • Future condition + present result

1. Past condition + present result

This structure of a mixed conditional sentence is used to refer to a past condition, and how it would affect the present situation. Remember we are talking about an unreal situation here.

The speaker uses this conditional when they don’t have a certain situation in the present, and a certain condition in the past would produce the desired result in the present.

How can we change what’s already been done? We can’t go back in the past and change it. But that’s what we are doing here. We want to produce a certain situation in the present by changing the past, which is again our imagination, not reality. And that’s why it’s a hypothetical situation.

Note: a past action (hypothetical) here affects the present situation. That’s what we try to show here in this type of mixed conditional sentence.

Structure:

Condition clause: if + subject + had + past participle
Result clause (1): subject + would + base verb (v1)
Result clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle

If I hadn’t invested all my money in his business, I would not be broke today.

At present, I am broke: I have no money. But this situation would be different (opposite) if the past would have been different: if I hadn’t invested all my money in his business. But the reality is that I am broke at present because of something I did in the past. This conditional sentence shows the situation in which my present situation would be different, opposite to the reality.

Note: the result can use either the Simple Present tense or the Present Progressive tense to refer to the result of the condition in the present.

If I hadn’t invested all my money in his business, I would not be living in this small house.

I am living in this small house because I invested all my money in his business. But if I hadn’t done this in the past, my present would be different.

If I had not run away from them, I would be working in a factory and drinking alcohol everyday.

Reality: The present is opposite. I am not working in a factory and drinking alcohol everyday because I ran away from them.

More examples:

  • If we had gotten on that plane, we would be dead right now.
  • If I hadn’t accepted your offer that day and joined this company, I would not have all this money and freedom.
  • We would have more jobs today if the government had not shut down those businesses.
  • Our lives would be so boring if we hadn’t found Ashish.
  • If your parents hadn’t had coitus that day, you wouldn’t be here on this planet.
  • If you hadn’t moved to the court that day, you would be dead right now.

Result clause using the Present Progressive tense

  • I would still be living in a slum if you had not gotten me that job.
  • You would be begging on the roadside if my father hadn’t brought you home that day.
  • They would be living with us today if they hadn’t stolen our money.

2. Past condition + future result

Here, we show the relation of a certain condition (unreal and unattainable) in the past with an event in the future (the result). The result clause uses future time markers to refer to the future.

Common future time markers: tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, later, the day after tomorrow…

Structure:

Condition clause: if + subject + had + past participle
Result clause (1): subject + would + base verb + future time marker
Result clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle + future time marker

If you had agreed to move in that day, I would not be moving to a different city next week.

Reality: I am going to move to a different city because you didn’t agree to move in that day. Something that happened in the past has an impact on what’s happening in the future.

If the company had hiked the wages, the workers wouldn’t protest from tomorrow.

Reality: The workers are going to protest from tomorrow as the company did not hike their wages.

More examples:

  • If you hadn’t slapped the lady, you would not be going to jail tomorrow.
  • Jon would come on the trip with us next week if his grandfather hadn’t died.
  • If she hadn’t cheated on me, we would be getting married tomorrow.
  • If they had taken Jon to the hospital on time, he would be celebrating the Christmas with us next week.
  • I would come to your party tonight if you had informed me about it that day.
  • If I hadn’t broken my hand at the party, I would be performing next week.
  • If you hadn’t disrespected the dean, you would be graduating tomorrow too.
  • You would not be seeing the doctor tomorrow if had taken the medicine on time.

3. Present condition + past result

This is another way to talk about a hypothetical situation. Here, a certain condition in the present produces a certain result in the past. But we know the past can’t be changed in the present; what’s done is done, it can’t be undone. Using this type of a mixed conditional sentence is a way to create a hypothetical present situation (condition) and it’s probable result in the past.

Sometimes, action that took place in the past took place because of a current situation in the present. The speaker took the decision looking at the future situation, which is a present situation at the moment. But the speaker, right now, is not happy with how the situation is, and tries to imagine in what present condition the past situation would be opposite to reality. 

Structure:

Condition clause (1): if + subject + past form of verb
Condition clause (2): if + subject + were + subject complement
Condition clause (3): if + subject + were + present progressive
Result clause: subject + would + have + past participle

The condition in the present can be shown by using a linking verb in the subjunctive form (were), or an action verb in the past form, or an auxiliary verb in the subjunctive form and a present participle form of a verb. These are three ways to form a condition that refers to the present.

Imagination: If my father weren’t ill, I would have joined you guys.
Reality: My father is ill, and that’s why I didn’t join you guys.

Imagination: if I didn’t have to pay off the loan today, I would have bought the car that day.
Reality: I didn’t buy the car that day because I have to pay off the loan today.

In the past, I didn’t buy a car because of the present condition we have today. But the present condition was a future condition back then, which I had projected, and because of which I didn’t buy the car. I knew the loan expenses were coming soon. So, the smart decision was to save the money and pay off the loan first.

Today, at present, we are paying off the loan, and don’t have the car we wanted to buy in the past. So, we are creating an imaginary situation in which this whole event would have been different. If I did not have the present situation I have today, I would have bought the car that day.

Situation: It’s 5 pm right now. You are driving a car, going to the airport to pick up your parents. Yesterday, your friends asked you to go on a trip to Goa with them. They said they would be back in 4 days. But at that point in time, you knew that you would have to go to the airport tomorrow to pick up your parents. As there’s no one in the family to do it, you don’t have an option, and you have to do it yourself. Knowing this, you declined to join them. You didn’t join them because of a situation that was going to occur in the future, which is the present today.

Now, while driving to the airport to pick up parents, you’re thinking about your friends and the trip. You are sad that you didn’t go there. Now, you create the situation in which you would have joined them. You do this by creating a hypothetical present condition and the desired result in the past. 

Desired situation: If I wasn’t going to pick up my parents from the airport, I would have gone on the tour with my friends.
Reality: I didn’t go on the tour with my friends as I am going to pick with my parents from the airport.

More examples:

  • If I didn’t have a Puja at my place now, I would have had some drinks with you all.
  • I would have let you stay at my place for some days if my parents weren’t coming back home today.
  • She would have taken the day off if she didn’t have so much work on her plate today.
  • The presentation would have been better if you knew English.
  • If we did not have a match in the evening, we would have waited to see your mother in the morning.
  • I would have stayed at your place till midnight if I didn’t have an exam in the evening today.
  • He would not have come back home from Australia if we did not have a wedding in our family next week.

4. Present condition + future result

This is another way to talk about a hypothetical situation. Here in this type of a mixed conditional sentence, we use an unreal present condition and its probable result in the future. Here, the present condition produces a future result.

Structure:

Condition clause (1): if + subject + past form of verb
Condition clause (2): if + subject + were + subject complement
Condition clause (3): if + subject + were + present progressive

Result clause (1): subject + would + base verb + future time marker
Result clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle + future time marker

Imagination: If I didn’t have a high fever, I would come to your party tonight.
Reality: I have a high fever, and I won’t come to your party tonight because of it

Imagination: If my car wasn’t broken, I would pick you up from the airport tomorrow.
Reality: I won’t pick you up from the airport as my car is broken.

Imagination: If we had a car, we wouldn’t be buying it tomorrow.
Reality: we are going to buy a car tomorrow as we don’t have a car.

Imagination: If you spoke English fluently, the company would send you to London to promote the latest product they have launched.
Reality: The company would not send you to London as you don’t speak English fluently.

Examples:

  • If you were here, I wouldn’t go to the party alone tomorrow.
  • If Joanna wasn’t in London right now, we would get married on Sunday.
  • If I had a lot of money, I wouldn’t be going to Dubai for a job next week.
  • If I weren’t be feeling so much pain in my legs, I would come participate in the marathon tomorrow.

5. Future condition + past result

This type of a mixed conditional sentence is used to refer to an unreal future condition and its probable result in the past. Here, a future condition is imagined to have had an impact on a past event.

This is the farthest the times that clauses (condition clause and result clause) refer to in a conditional clause can be. The condition clause refers to a future time, and the result clause refers to a past time.

Structure:

Condition clause (1): subject + would + base verb + future time marker
Condition clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle + future time marker
Result clause: subject + would + have + past participle

Imagination: If I weren’t going to Canada next week for a business meeting, I would have attended your destination wedding.

Reality: I didn’t attend your destination wedding because of a business meeting that I have in the future. Thinking of the meeting, I didn’t attend your wedding because by the time I would have gone back from the wedding, my meeting date would have been gone. 

Imagination: If I weren’t getting married tomorrow, I would have come to see you at the station.
Reality: I am going to get married tomorrow and that’s why I didn’t come to see you at the station.

Examples:

  • I would have brought that stray dog home if mother wasn’t buying one tomorrow. 
  • If he didn’t have a fight coming up next week, he would have sparred with you.
  • I would have taken the day off if I wasn’t applying for a week off at the end of this month.
  • Would you have had a fling with the lady that was hitting on you if you weren’t marrying Riya this week?
  • If I weren’t starting my own business next month, I would have accepted your job offer.
  • I would have stayed with you if my cousins weren’t coming here tomorrow for a month.

6. Future condition + present result

Another mixed conditional sentence is a combination of a condition in the future and the result of the condition in the present. Here, an unreal condition in the future produces a certain result in the present. 

Structure:

Condition clause (1): subject + would + base verb + future time marker
Condition clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle + future time marker
Result clause (1): subject + would + base verb
Result clause (2): subject + would + be + present participle

Imagination: If I didn’t have to get up early tomorrow, I would be at your place, drinking with you all.
Reality: I am not at your place, drinking with you all because I have to get up early tomorrow.

Imagination: If I didn’t have to wake up at 4 am tomorrow, I would be watching TV.
Reality: I am not watching TV right now because I have to wake up at 4 am tomorrow.

Imagination: I would be extremely disappointed right now if I weren’t going out for movies tonight.
Reality: I am not disappointed because I’m going out for movies tonight.

Imagination: We all would be working right now if Jon weren’t organizing fun activities tomorrow.
Reality: We are not working right now because Jon is organizing fun activities tomorrow. 

More examples:

  • She would be sleeping right now it she didn’t have an exam tomorrow.
  • We would not be drinking right now if we had to go home tomorrow.
  • If I didn’t have to give blood tomorrow, I would not be eating fruits and drinking juice.
  • Would you be buying me gifts if you weren’t getting your salary credited tonight?
  • I wouldn’t be asking you to read this book if you didn’t have an interview tomorrow?
  • If we didn’t have an early flight tomorrow morning, we wouldn’t be up right now and packing luggage.
  • Would you not be mad at me if I were taking you to movies tomorrow?
  • Sam weren’t be furious if you weren’t going on a date with his sister tonight.

How to punctuate a mixed conditional sentence?

There is only one punctuation mark that you need to careful about: a comma. It’s easy to use a comma in a mixed conditional sentence.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use a comma after a condition clause if it preceded the result clause.
  • If the condition clause follows the result clause, don’t use a comma.

Examples:

  • If you were a girl, I would have moved in with you.
  • If I didn’t have an exam today, I would not have declined the offer to go to movies.
  • If we had been educated well, we wouldn’t be doing this menial job.

On reversing the order of the clauses, the sentences would not need a comma.

  • I would have moved in with you if you were a girl.
  • I would not have declined the offer to go to movies if I didn’t have an exam today.
  • We wouldn’t be doing this menial job if we had been educated well.

We, now, know what mixed conditional sentences are, how to mix times in them and use them correctly. Do share your feedback, question, or doubt in the comment section, and don’t forget to share it with the people in need to help them.

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