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If my father had a day off, we always went to see my grandfather.

Is the sentence above grammatically correct?

I thought there should be would go instead of always went whether it's a past habitual action or a hypothetical statement.

Am I wrong? Can you please explain?

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    The sentence is grammatically "correct", in that its meaning would be understood by any native English speaker, and most would see nothing amiss in it. However, it is more usual to use the modal would in conditional clause constructions like this one. When you say it "should be would go", please understand that there is no "rule" that prevents the sentence from being written as it is, or brands it as a violation of some kind. (On the other hand, if the conditional clause were headed by when, the simple past went would be expected.) – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Nov 21 '16 at 8:25
  • @P.E.Dant Does the meaning change, if I replace always went with would go? Does the sentence given imply a hypothetical statement or a past habitual action? – Omkar Reddy Nov 21 '16 at 8:43
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    It would be proper to replace went with would go. The adverb always can stay. That would be a fine substitution, and the meaning will not change; as it is, always went conveys the same sense of habitual action as would go (but not the sense of a hypothetical statement here.) The substitution of would go is the more "proper" way of saying it. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Nov 21 '16 at 8:51
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There is nothing wrong with your example. Past subjunctive (action conditional, possible, wished for) has the same form as the simple past for all verbs except 'to be'.

You can use a conditional clause instead if you want to, but there is no compulsion.

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  • 1. If my father had a day off, we always went to see my grandfather. 2. If my father had a day off, we would always go to see my grandfather 3. If my father had a day off, we always used to go to see my grandfather. Can you please explain the difference in meaning of the three sentences? – Omkar Reddy Nov 30 '16 at 14:03
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If my father has a day off, we always go to see my grandfather.

The sentence expresses a habitual situation in the present

We can express this situation in the past as follows:

If my father had a day off, we always went to see my grandfather.

But it will be more appropriate if you replace if with when.

If my father had a day off, we would always go to see my grandfather.

It's usually considered a hypothetical sentence expressing an unreal situation in the present; there's no question about it. I think to make it a habitual situation in a clear way, you use when instead of if as follows:

When my father had a day off, we would always go to see my grandfather.

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  • Do you mean If my father had a day off, we would always go to see my grandfather doesn't imply habitual action? – Omkar Reddy Nov 21 '16 at 11:52
  • I think it will usually be considered as hypothetical; conditional type 2 – Khan Nov 21 '16 at 13:07

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