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I saw this sentence:

"and even if an early starship fails during re-entry, it wouldn't be a major setback"


Which type of condition is it ? It seems like condition 1, but they use would and not will.

Maybe it's type 2 condition, but in this case, shouldn't the past tense be used (failed instead fails) ?

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steam machMaybe it's type 2 condition

In effect, yes.

steam machshouldn't the past tense be used (failed instead fails) ?

Yes, but the speaker (or writer) is making the condition seem more real/probable by using the present tense. (And/or he's making the result seem less real/probable by using 'would'.)

This is called a mixed conditional.

IF (first cond.), (second cond.).

CJ

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steam mach

I saw this sentence:

"and even if an early starship fails during re-entry, it wouldn't be a major setback"


Which type of condition is it ? It seems like condition 1, but they use would and not will.

Maybe it's type 2 condition, but in this case, shouldn't the past tense be used (failed instead fails) ?

Here are my second thoughts your question.

There is a way of looking at this in which it is not truly a conditional at all. It is a self-referential conditional. Note how it in the consequent clause refers to the entire preceding clause:

If an early starship fails during re-entry, it wouldn't be a major setback.

So the contents of the if-clause can be incorporated into a main clause. An awkward paraphrase might go as follows:

An early starship failing during re-entry would not be a major setback.

Or, less awkwardly:

The failure of an early starship during re-entry would not be a major setback.

Also:

For an early starship to fail during re-entry would not be a major setback.
It would not be a major setback for an early starship to fail during re-entry.

None of these paraphrases contains if. You wouldn't call any of them conditional sentences.

So, in effect, maybe the sentence is not a conditional at all? Is if taking a role that is different from its usual role here? Is that why the conventions regarding the usual sequence of tenses seems to go out the window?


More examples:

If both elections are failures, it would be devastating to Iraqis.
> It would be devastating to Iraqis for both elections to be failures.

If he's right on that count, it would be the latest wrinkle in a long tradition.
> It would be the latest wrinkle in a long tradition for him to be right on that count.

It wouldn't surprise me if this attitude is typical of people across the land.
> It wouldn't surprise me to find that this attitude is typical of people across the land.

If he can get in the England team again, it would help his confidence even more.
> It would help his confidence even more (for him) to get in the England team again.

Even if I stay in bed 24 hours a day, it wouldn't help my blood counts recover.
> Even staying in bed 24 hours a day wouldn't help my blood counts to recover.

CJ

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Comments  
CalifJim
steam machMaybe it's type 2 condition

In effect, yes.

steam machshouldn't the past tense be used (failed instead fails) ?

Yes, but the speaker (or writer) is making the condition seem more real/probable by using the present tense. (And/or he's making the result seem less real/probable by using 'would'.)

This is called a mixed conditional.

IF (first cond.), (second cond.).

CJ

When I read the sentence, I thought that was a mistake from the writer, but when I read your answer, it caught my attention, so I want to make sure of that grammar. Regrading mix conditional, the structure I know as follows:

We can use either one of the following:

Simple past in the If clause, and the perfect conditional in the main clause.

Ex, If I were there, I would have been in a much better situation.

Past perfect in the If clause, and the present conditional in the main clause.

Ex, If I had listened to their advice, I would get in trouble.



But present simple in the if clause, and the present conditional in the main clause is an unfamiliar structure, to me. So I'm wondering about it.

MoonriseBut present simple in the if clause, and the present conditional in the main clause is an unfamiliar structure, to me. So I'm wondering about it.

It's OK. Maybe not commonly used, but OK. Emotion: smile

CJ

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.

Thank you for the answer.