This week, the ladies in classes have been asking me what exactly mixed conditionals are in grammar. Well, it’s the same as tenses — in everyday English, we mix tenses and conditionals like a salad. It’s rather rare that you’ll have to tell the whole story using just one tense, you WILL mix them at some point because each tense has its own function.
In mixed conditionals, we mix clauses from the second and third conditionals to express:
Past conditions with present results.
Present conditions with past results.
If my daughter had studied hard last year, she would be in university now.
Conditional 3, conditional 2: unreal past + unreal present — both are hypothetical, imagined.
If my son wasn’t such a good boy, I would have given him away to his grandparents.
Conditional 2, conditional 3: unreal present + unreal past — both again are hypothetical, but reversed in time in comparison to 1.
It may seem rather confusing at first, but with practice it should become easy — remember, mix conditionals are both imagined, unreal and hypothetical. They are not based on something that is real and present in life.
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