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Scenario: Someone is driving us to the airport and my pal asks me if the paper towels are clean in the ledge because she needs one. And I say:

What kind of conditional do I use if I am uncertain about something?

1. I'm not sure. I think it's clean or else they would be in that tiny garbage can next to it if they weren't cleaned.

2. I'm not sure. I think it's clean or else they would be in that tiny garbage can next to it if they aren't cleaned.

3. I'm not sure. I think it's clean or else they will be in that tiny garbage can next to it if they aren't cleaned. (Or should I use this one out of all of them? But I have 'will' here? I'm too certain about where the towels go when the car isn't even mine? So is this one still okay?)

Thanks.
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Comments  
Hi,

Usually, we have paper tissues or kleenexes in a car, not towels.

'Ledge' is not a great word here, more natural would be perhaps 'the shelf in the dash'.

You need to say 'they', not 'it' in all these examples.

Say 'clean', not 'cleaned'.

I think your versions are all too long and too repetitious. If you shorten the sentence, a lot of problems go away and it's more natural. Just say I think they're clean or else they would be in the garbage.

If you have any more questions about this, please write again, OK?

Best wishes, Clive

This would be what I would write, giving that the context of the dialogue is in the present tense:

I'm not sure. I think they are clean or else they would be in that tiny garbage can. If they aren't clean, they would be in that tiny garbage can.
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Clive,

I was writing without having seen your post. But I think we're in agreement here.

For 'ledge', maybe, 'dashboard.'--or is that old-fashioned now. Is it just 'the dash'?
Hi Davkett,

In N. American English (NAmE ?), I only hear 'dash', referring pretty well to the whole front inside fascia.

Clive
Another version...

"Are those tissues in the glove compartment clean?"

"I'm not sure. But I think they're clean, as otherwise they'd be in that tiny garbage can."

Or:

"I'm not sure. But if they weren't clean, they'd be in that tiny garbage can."

MrP
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PS

But it's incorrect to use 'will', as in #3.

MrP
MrP,

Given the present tense of the setup--

Why this: "I'm not sure. But if they weren't clean, they'd be in that tiny garbage can",

and not this: "I'm not sure. But if they aren't clean, they'd be in that tiny garbage can"?

Or you are not preferring one over the other?



Hi guys,

Scenario: Someone is driving us to the airport and my pal asks me if the paper towels are clean in the ledge because she needs one. And I say.....

I have to note that this whole scenario seems a little unrealistic to me. If I were the driver and these two people started to debate whether the tissues on my dash were clean or not, I'd feel insulted.

Next time, bring your own goshdarned tissues, and drive yourselves to the airport as well!!!

Clive
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