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Hi,

I was trying to figure out the basic concepts behind the Type 2 conditionals and seem to need your help.

A typical Type 2 conditional would be like this:

If I had studied harder at college, I would have gotten (got??) a better job.

I think this deals with an assumption that if an imaginal condition were to be played out (as in if-clause) what would be the imagined consequence of it.

Fine, but I don't understand why the tense in the if-clause cannot be replaced with the past to say basically the same thing lke this:

If I studied harder at college, I would have gotten (or got) a better job.

To play it safe, I think, I could just write like this:

If I studied harder at college, I would have a better job (today).
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Hi believer,

your example,

If I had studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job,

isn't a typical Type 2 conditional. It's a Type 3 conditional, and it refers to unreal past conditions.

On the other hand your last example,

If I studied harder at college, I would have a better job,

is a typical Type 2 conditional, and it refers to unreal Present condition. Its structure is simple past but its meaning is present.

Hope this helps. Emotion: smile
Thank you, yulysess.

A few moments after I wrote that post, I realized what I meant to say was a 'Type 3 conditional', rather than a 'Type 2 conditional'. Thank you. Would you say my argument still prevails for the following example of Type 3 and my query sentence?

If I had studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job.

I think this is saying the same thing, absent of any specifics (or posibly with specifics too??).

If I studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job.
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Ok; let's think again: there are mixed type conditionals in English, but not for every situation.

If I had studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job. => [ you are no longer at college]

If I studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job. =>[ you are still at college]

Now, which one do you think logical? Emotion: smile

PS: I also attached a pdf file on Conditional, hope helps you!
This is not past perfect indicative BTW, it is the past perfect (plus perfect) subjunctive:



One main reason of using it in this case is our typical interpretation of the past perfect as preceding a past event, which is the sequence in your sentence.
where is that pdf?
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thank you for your patience.

As to your sentence and mine, "If I studied harder at college, I would have gotten a better job," it is out of my line of comprehension to think it means that the person who purports to be me is still in college.

eg,

If I played harder at the game, I would have won the medal. --With all due respect, does it sound like I am still playing the game?

Maybe the sentence above isn't analogous to the prementioned sentence that was shown at the beginning.


Let's spread out the issue a little bit:

___ O ___

Type 2. Basic forms.

a. If we caught the 10 o'clock train, we would (could, might,

etc.) get there by lunch-time.

b. If I came into a fortune, I would give up smoking.

c. If I knew how it worked, I could tell you what to do.

In these sentences the conditional clauses represent what is a possible, b hypothetical/imaginary, or c contrary to the present fact. The verb form in the conditional clause represents the attitude of the speaker towards the condition; it does not represent time, which is indicated by other elements in the context or situation.

Sentence a is analogous to type 1 (If we catch..., we shall get...), but is more suppositional. The speaker either regards catching that train as improbable, or he wishes to put forward in a more tentative or "polite" way the suggestion of catching it. It does not necessarily follow that the condition is in fact unlikely to be fulfilled.

Sentence b, on the other hand, is much more hypothetical: it is a form of day-dreaming in which we all indulge at times.

Sentence c presents us with totally imaginary (or unreal) situation with reference to the time of speaking: it implies that I don't, in fact, know how it works, so I can't tell you what to do. Note that the past tense is used here to indicate present unreality.

The three sentences are formally identical: they all have the same sequence of tenses:

(if) past tense, (main) conditional.

However, contextually they are rather different. They represent three points on a scale of decreasing probability, from a suppositional or tentative but possible, to b hypothetical but not impossible, to c contrary to present fact, and hence unreal.

Note that the conditional tense is not used in the conditional clause.

As we saw in example "c", the idea of something contrary to present fact is conveyed by the use of the past tense in the conditional clause. We also use the past tense to refer to present unreality after the verb "wish" (if only, also expresses the wish of the speaker), and after expressions like "I'd rather" and "It is time":

a. I wish (that) I were rich! (If only I were rich!)

b. I'd rather you told me frankly what you think.

c. It's time (It's about time, It's high time) we left.

We never use the present tense or a future form after wish. We use either the past tense as illustrated above, or we can use would (not will) to indicate that people or events frustrate our desires.

Type 2. Variations.

a. If we were to miss the 10 o'clock train, we wouldn't get there till after lunch.

The use of were to in the conditional clause sometimes has the effect of emphasizing the suppositional nature of the condition and, is in some ways analogous to the use of should in conditional clauses in TYPE 1: we can often substitute "by any chance" without changing the meaning: If by any chance we missed the 10 o'clock train, we wouldn't get there till after lunch.

Were to is used for all persons, and this variation may be applied to any conditional clause of this second type.

b. If you would reserve seats, we would be sure of a comfortable journey.

In this sentence. would is not a part of a conditional tense; it is a modal verb, and represents a more tentative (or polite) form of WILL as used in conditional clauses of type 1. It introduces the idea of your agreeing, or being willing, to do what is suggested. We cannot use this construction in the following sentence:

If he got my letters in time, he would be able to change his plans.

We cannot say

*If he would get my letter in time, since "he" can hardly exercise any willingness or unwillingness to get it.

You must, therefore, be careful to use "would" in this way only where the context will support the idea of co-operation, agreement, or willingness on the part of the subject.

Type 2. Summary of forms.

1. (If) past tense, (main) conditional.

If we caught the early train, we'd get there by lunch time.

2. (If) were to + infinitive, (main) conditional.

If we were to miss the early train, we wouldn't get there till after lunch.

3. (If) would + infinitive, (main) conditional.

If you'd cook the dinner, I'd do the washing up afterwards.

Type 3. Basic forms and variations.

a. If we had caught the 10 o'clock train, we would (could, might, etc.) have got there by lunch-time.

This sentence is completely hypothetical, and represents what is contrary to past fact. In this case, the past perfect tense is used to indicate past unreality -we didn't catch the 10 o'clock train, so we didn't get there by lunch time.

This is analogous to the use of the past tense to indicate present unreality in type 2c, and tense usage after the verb WISH follows the same pattern: we use the past perfect to refer to something wished-for in the past:

I wish you had told me before (but you didn't)

Variations on a sentence "a" are not very common, though sentences like the following are occasionally met with:

b. If you were to have asked me, I would have been only too willing to help.



Bibliography

R. A. Close (1975). A Reference Grammar for Students of English. Longman.

B.D. Graver (1979). Advanced English Practice. OUP

S.M. Parkinson (1983). A University English Grammar for Spanish-Speakers. Ed. Empeño

R. Quirk et al. (1979). A Grammar of Contemporary English. Longman

W. Stannard Allen (1977). Living English Structure. Longman

M. Swan (1986). Practical English Usage. OUP

A.J. Thomson & A.V. Martinet (1982). A Practical English Grammar. OUP

_____ O ______

Enjoy:)

Also look at the link Marius gave.

Hi Believer,
the sentences you are asking about can have the same meaning, but...
1) If I had played harder at the game, I would have won the medal.<--- correct, good, best one.
2) If I played harder at the game, I would have won the medal.<--- not correct according to prescriptivists, but (some?) native speakers sometimes use the simple past instead of the past perfect these conditional structures. George Dubbya Bush does, for example.

The first one is the best, but don't expect every native speaker to only use that one and not the second.

That's what I learned, just my point of view. I could be wrong but I hope I'm not! Emotion: wink
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