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  1. #1
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    Default how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    I think 2 can be interpreted in two ways like either 1 or 3.
    I have seen americans using the mixture form of 2.
    If someone meant 1 by 2, then "would have met" is not a contrary-to-fact imagination, but an assumption. If someone meant 3 by 2, then "would have met" is a contrary-to fact statment meaning "his action of meeting her" actually didn't happen, but the speaker regrets it.

    How do they differentiate the meaning of confusing2?

    1.If she came to the party, he met her.(conditional1, factual)

    2.If she came to the party, he would have met her.(distorted conditional2+conditional2)

    3.If she had come to the party, he would have met her.(conditional2, counter-factual)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    Two points to start with:

    a. A dazzling array of tenses is possible in such sentences in certain contexts. It is difficult to asses the acceptability/ meaning of a sentence that looks like a conditional if we don't know the full context.

    b. In conversation, people sometimes change their minds in mid-sentence, and utter something that they would never write, You hear some odd things at times, and cannot generalise rules from them.

    Bearing that in mind, I'll give some possible readings of your sentences.

    1.If she came to the party, he met her.

    A: I hear that Mary came to the party,
    B: If that is then case (implying: I accept that that is the case), then it follows that George met her
    .

    The speaker is accepting that she did come to the party. It is not really a 'conditional' sentence in the way we normally use the term.

    2.If she came to the party, he would have met her.

    This is similar to #1, except that the speaker is now less certain of the meeting:

    A: I hear that Mary came to the party,
    B: If that is then case (implying: I accept that that is the case), then we can assume that George met her
    .

    3.If she had come to the party, he would have met her.

    This is the traditional third conditional, denoting a counterfactual past situation - she did not come to the party, and he did not meet her.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    So you mean that in some cases "if" means "if it is right that...", and that we can not consider such cases the traditional conditional cases. That would help.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khosro View Post
    So you mean that in some cases "if" means "if it is right that...", and that we can not consider such cases the traditional conditional cases. That would help.
    I didn't say 'cannot'; my actual words were: " It is not really a 'conditional' sentence in the way we normally use the term."

    This is not just hair-splitting. I don't think it would be helpful if this thread were to get into a discussion about what actually constitutes a conditional sentence.

    A: What time is John arriving?
    B: He already has. I saw him in his office just now.
    A. Well then,
    if he is here, we'll ask him about the contract.

    The underlined words have the form of a first conditional, but not the usual meaning, 'future real possibility'.

    I am suggesting that, in sentences such as this and Keannu's #2, we do not try to force them into the traditional patterns and meanings.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    I understand what you are saying, but what I'm saying is Americans make vague, dubious conditionals.

    1.If she came(had come) to the party, he would have met her.-conditional3
    (The speaker knows that she didn't actually come, but to shorten the conditional part, the speaker just says "came" instead of "had come". This shortening is widespread.)

    2. If she came to the party, he would have met her -conditional1
    (The speaker doesn't know if she came, so the possibility of her coming is open,
    but they say would have met her ,as you said, for "less certainty". and it may be not a traditional conditional1 that needs "he met her". I once asked an American, and he said like this when he supposed he doesn't know if she "came"


    How can I infer the meaning when they say the two sentences? There is no way to determine if it means unreal conditional like 1 or real conditional like 2. Maybe I have to determine the meaning in the context, but it will still be confusing.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: how to understand mixture of conditional1 and conditional2?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    I understand what you are saying, but what I'm saying is Americans make vague, dubious conditionals.

    1.If she came(had come) to the party, he would have met her.-conditional3
    (The speaker knows that she didn't actually come, but to shorten the conditional part, the speaker just says "came" instead of "had come". This shortening is widespread.)

    2. If she came to the party, he would have met her -conditional1
    (The speaker doesn't know if she came, so the possibility of her coming is open, but they say would have met her ,as you said, for "less certainty". and it may be not a traditional conditional1 that needs "he met her". I once asked an American, and he said like this when he supposed he doesn't know if she "came"

    How can I infer the meaning if they say 1 to shorten the conditional part? Maybe I have to determine the meaning in the context, but it will be confusing.
    How do you know that the speaker was intending a counterfactual statement in #1?

    #2 is nothing like a first conditional.

    Assume that the speaker knows that in the event of 'her' coming, 'his' meeting of her was certain.

    If the speaker knows that 'she' did not come, the appropriate utterance is:

    If she had come, he would have met her.

    If the speaker does not know whether or not 'she' came, then three of the possible utterances are:

    4. If she came, he met her.
    5. If she came, he will have met her.
    6. If she came he would have met her.

    I wrote in another thread that not every if-sentence falls neatly into the three (or five) traditional types of conditional sentences. There are dozens of possible constructions, each making sense in the right context.

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