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Grammatik auf Englisch - Bedingungssätze: immer eine Ausnahme

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Grammatik auf Englisch, Bedingungssätze: immer eine Ausnahme

Last month we presented the ins-and-outs of the real and unreal conditional forms. These are very important to learn, but they’re not enough. Once you’ve mastered the patterns, the last step is to learn a few of the most important variations.

Continuous verb forms in conditionals


You can use a continuous verb in both clauses of a conditional statement, but you must understand that doing so has the effect of stressing the action in progress.

Using a continuous verb in a present unreal conditional statement

In the condition clause:
If … were + present participle, …

In the result clause:
… would be + present participle

Example of using a continuous verb in the condition clause only:
If Lars were presenting instead of Mark, the audience would pay more attention.

Example of using a continuous verb in the result clause only:
If Lars presented instead of Mark, the audience would be paying more attention.

Example of using a continuous verb in both clauses:
If Lars were presenting instead of Mark, the audience would be paying more attention.

In the first example, the continuous verb in the condition clause puts the focus on the ongoing act of presenting. The result clause receives secondary focus. This could be used before or during the presentation.
In the second example, the reverse is true: the continuous verb in the result clause puts the focus on the ongoing act of paying attention. This could only be used during the presentation.
In the third example, both clauses are stressed equally and both actions are occurring at the same time. This could only be used during the presentation and has the feeling of being in the situation as it unfolds.

Using a continuous verb in a past unreal conditional statement

When continuous verbs are used in past unreal statements, it has the effect of emphasising a process that was occurring in the past. These statements are usually used to describe the result of an ongoing process or to describe two parallel actions.

In the condition clause:
If … had been + present participle, …

In the result clause:
… would have been + present participle

In the condition only ( stresses the process in the past ):
If we had been paying attention to his remarks, we would have learned more. ( the result of the action )

In the result only:

If Margaret had missed her train, her husband would have been waiting at the station for her in vain. ( the result of the action )

In both clauses:

If you had been sitting at your desk at 11, you would have been getting an earful from the boss about productivity over the telephone – along with the rest of us. ( parallel actions in the past )

Using a continuous verb in a future unreal conditional statement

The form is exactly the same as with present unreal conditionals. The “future” feeling is created with words like tomorrow, next week, in a few days, next Wednesday, and the like.

Examples:

If Lars were presenting instead of Mark tomorrow, the audience would pay more attention.

If Lars presented instead of Mark, the audience would be paying more attention on Wednesday.

Using modal verbs in the result

Modal verbs like might, could, can and should are often used instead of will and would to express advice, permission, future possibilities or hypothetical possibilities:

If you continue feeling sick, you should see a doctor.
If we arrive early, we might swing by for a visit.
If you had a better attitude, you could find a better job.
If you had had a better attitude, you could have found a better job.


Alternatives to if

The following alternatives can replace if in most conditional statements to achieve different meanings.

Provided ( that ) and as long as
Expresses the fact that a condition must be met:

You can take next week off provided that you finish your analysis by the end of the week.

As long as we haven’t heard anything, we shouldn’t take any action.


If it were not for

Expresses that a result depends completely on an event:
If it weren’t for his extended business experience, the company would already be bankrupt. ( Conditional 2 )
If it hadn’t been for his intervention, the project would have been a complete failure. ( Conditional 3 )



Omitting if
You can omit if in present unreal conditionals using were ( Conditionals 1 and 2 ) by replacing if with were :

Were great artists not so moody, they wouldn’t be so likely to kill themselves.

In Conditional 3 statements you can do the same by replacing if with had :

Had Hitler never been born, the world would have been saved from a lot of anguish.

Mixed conditionals

One of the most confusing things native speakers do is mix the conditional forms. In a mixed conditional statement, the time in the condition clause is not the same as the time in the result clause. Every combination is valid, but you have to be really careful that your sentence makes sense. There are no rules here – you just have to get the hang of it. Here are some examples:

If I had won the lottery on Saturday, I would be rich now. ( past, present )
If James had passed his exams, he would be coming with us tomorrow. ( past, future )
If I weren’t going on vacation next week, I would have agreed to help you. ( future, past )

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Grammatik auf Englisch, Bedingungssätze: immer eine Ausnahme

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