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Hello, can someone tell me how to distinguish between real condition and unreal condition? I know that real condition is most likely to be happened, but if we use IF, it's always an unknown, right? Also, I like to know wheather there is a past tense in If clause, such as " If you meant 2pm your time, then I will be online waiting for you."

thanks,

ESL Student
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sarah881. " if you meant Nov. 12 @2pm CET, I will be there for sure."

2. " if you mean Nov. [email protected] CET, I will be there for sure."
Sarah:
Both of your sentences are correct.
Suppose I am the person who requested your on-line chat session.
I sent you the request in the past, so I would understand sentence #1 in your reply because it was my decision in the past, and you are confirming with a statement.

But if you send me sentence #2 in your reply, I would understand it as a statement in the present, as if we are having a conversation right now.
Comments  
sarah88Hello, can someone tell me how to distinguish between real condition and unreal condition? I know that real condition is most likely to be happened, but if we use IF, it's always an unknown, right? Also, I like to know wheather there is a past tense in If clause, such as " If you meant 2pm your time, then I will be online waiting for you."

thanks,

ESL Student

Hello Sarah,

I wonder what your native language is, because some languages are like English in this, while others are unlike it. My advice is to remember two basic formulae for the sequence of tenses:

1. If he goes, I will see him - Present -> Future
2. If he went, I would see him - Past -> Conditional

And remember which tense goes in the if-clause, and which in the main clause: just learn by heart the two sentences, they are simple enough. It's wrong to put a conditional in the if-clause. If you go one tense back you follow the rules as in 2. but this time apply them to the auxiliary: If he had gone, I would have seen him.

One can also use Present -> Present If he goes, I see him. Students don't have much problem with that, in my experience.

Your last question suggests that you need to polish up on this elementary sequence of tenses, as in 1. & 2, above.

Your first question, however, suggests that you've studied this rather further and are considering the difference between:

If I were you (subjunctive) - unreal condition - if I were you, if I were Sultan of Zanzibar, if I were Russian: you clearly couldn't be me or Russian, assuming you are not Russian, and it would be very hard for you to become Sultan of Zanzibar, so I suppose that is an unreal condition, too.

If I was in Salisbury (indicative) - real condition - if I was at my computer, if I was having supper, if I was swimming: you might sometime be in Salisbury, or at your computer, or swimming.

TT

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Dear TT,

Thank you for trying to help me understand the above. Sometimes, I got confused after I had learned more about it. Emotion: stick out tongue

Someone has sent me an email, and he wrote " Okay, can we have a discussion online at 2pm CET?", but he forgot to clarify the date, so I wanted to let him know that if he meant 2pm the next day, I can be there for sure; otherwise I need to set up another time with him, because by the time I saw his email, it had already passed 2pm CET that day.

In this case, which the following is correct.

1. " if you meant Nov. 12 @2pm CET, I will be there for sure."

2. " if you mean Nov. [email protected] CET, I will be there for sure."

from what you said above, I think #1 is correct, Right?

For real conditions, I can also use simple past in IF-clause, and use future tense in the 2nd part. Right?

many thanks,

Sarah
 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.
Hi Sarah,

Apply the rules I gave you. Have confidence in them; they work. You suggest:

1. " if you meant (past) Nov. 12 @2pm CET, I will be there (future) for sure." I told you : If he goes (present) I will see him (future). So it should be If you mean....I will be there..... (i.e. your version 2). Or If you meant Nov 12 (past), I would be there (conditional) - If he went, I would see him.

2. " if you mean Nov.[email protected] CET,I will be there for sure." which follows the rules and is fine.

I think there is a problem here in that you haven't got a proper conditional sentence. Your being there for sure isn't conditional on his meaning Nov 12. You should in my view be saying:

If you meant Nov 12 etc., I would be able to be there for sure. Past -> Conditional

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Thank you, and I will remember the rules you gave me.

cheers,
Sarah