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  1. #1
    Moncs's Avatar
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    Mixed Conditional with should

    If you don't like Coldplay you shouldn't have bought the tickets for their show.

    Using the formula:
    Imagined Present Situation Imagined Past Result
    if + past simple would(n't) + have + past participle

    And exchanging the modal verb 'would' for 'should'.

    Shouldn't it be:
    If you didn't like Coldplay..?

  2. #2
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    Re: Mixed Conditional with should

    Quote Originally Posted by Moncs View Post
    If you don't like Coldplay you shouldn't have bought the tickets for their show.

    Using the formula:
    Imagined Present Situation Imagined Past Result
    if + past simple would(n't) + have + past participle

    And exchanging the modal verb 'would' for 'should'.

    Shouldn't it be:
    If you didn't like Coldplay..?
    No. You need to take the context into consideration, not just the syntax. (That formula is a guide). If you didn't like Coldplay when you bought the tickets, you presumably don't like Coldplay now. If you have begun to like Coldplay since you bought the tickets, then you wouldn't be complaining about it, and you wouldn't get this reaction. It would be normal to assume that buying the tickets happened recently, and that the state of your liking/not liking Coldplay hasn't changed.
    However, if we are talking about something you did ten years ago, then yes, "didn't" would be better.

    But your native language is English and you are a teacher. If someone said that last night they ordered oysters even though they don't/didn't like them, wouldn't you say, "If you don't like oysters, why did you order them?"

  3. #3
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    Re: Mixed Conditional with should

    That's great. Thanks for your reply.

    I know what sounds correct but my students get frustrated if they can't answer a question because something doesn't adhere to the written rule. How are they expected to know? Pretty tough on them. The book (Total English Upper Intermediate) is littered with mistakes.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    Re: Mixed Conditional with should

    Quote Originally Posted by Moncs View Post
    The book (Total English Upper Intermediate) is littered with mistakes.
    Are you sure that these 'mistakes' are not just over-simplifications. Many course books give what their writers intend to be helpful guidelines. If they gave the whole story, they would be hundreds of pages long.

    My own article on Conditionals runs to 15,000 words.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Mixed Conditional with should

    Try to think not in terms of rules, but in terms of guidelines. People try to identify patterns of usage, but they are almost never absolute rules.

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