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I was teaching and I asked students to do some class activity, but one of the students already had done that exercise at home so he didn't have anything to do in class.

I wanted to tell him something like he wasn't supposed to do that exercise at home.

How could I say this to him in conditional form?

Please imagine this is happening right now in the classroom.

Here are sentences that I've considered.

  • If you didn't do them at home, you could do it now like other students.

  • If you didn't do them at home, you could be doing it now like other students.

  • If you hadn't done them at home, you could be doing it now like other students.

  • 3
    If you hadn't done them already ....you could be doing them now. You can make the student write that sentence out a thousand times to break his spirit. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 23 '16 at 11:10
  • As TRomano quite gently points out, Masih, it's usually a bad idea to criticise a student, no matter how mildly you do it, for working at home. They will interpret criticism to mean that you consider your convenience to be more important than their desire to learn. A good teacher (you are the teacher, I presume?) prepares one or two exercises in reserve to give to students who have already done the exercise the other students are doing during that class period. – MMacD Dec 23 '16 at 11:53
  • Thanks for your recommendation. I didn't tell him anything. But it crossed my mind if I wanted to actually say that how could I state this sentence. I just wanted to make the situation more clear. – Masih K Dec 23 '16 at 12:20
  • @TRomano Sir, what about future. ''If you hadn't done them already you could do them tomorrow'' or ''you could be doing them tomorrow''. and can I use would instead of could in these cases. – Masih K Dec 23 '16 at 12:35
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    The tense of the if-clause does not restrict the tense of the main clause. If you hadn't done them already, you 1) could do them now 2) could do them tomorrow 3) could be doing them now 4) could have done them in home-room this morning 5) could have been doing them as I walked in the room – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 23 '16 at 12:45
1

The correct version is

If you hadn't done them at home, you could be doing them now.

Other continuations are possible, as indicated in the comments.

"If you had (not) done ..." refers to a hypothetical situation in the past. (This form is often used to introduce the third conditional.)

By contrast, "If you didn't do them at home, ..." describes a different kind of condition, since it assumes that the student did not do the exercises at home (even though this had been suggested or even requested, which is a different situation than in the question). One way of completing this sentence is:

If you didn't do them at home, you can do them now.

Note that this last sentence is not an example of the second conditional, even though it also uses if + simple past. Unlike the second conditional, the "condition" expressed in the if-clause is known to be true.

  • The second suggestion doesn't indicate the conditional, which is used to describe something that would happen if something became reality: I would do it IF I HAD money. In the second suggestion, it sounds to me like a possibility: If you didn't eat in your house, then you can eat here. When talking about a possibility tense, such as your second suggestion, there must contain "then", as a result in the middle of the statement; If you didn't do them at home, 'then' you can do them now. – Davyd Dec 27 '16 at 16:45
  • Is it possible to use Past Unreal Conditional + Continuous? Like, If you had not done them at home, you could have been doing them now (like the other students). – Marah Jan 18 '17 at 15:29
  • @Marah I'd rather say, "If you had not done them at home, you would be able to do them now", or, if for some reason a continuous form is needed, "If you had not done them at home, you could be doing them now" (since "could have been doing" would refer to something in the past compared to the moment of the statement). – Christophe Strobbe Jan 18 '17 at 16:01
  • Then, Is If you did not do them at home, you could be doing them now like the other students. also correct? – Marah Jan 18 '17 at 16:12
  • @Marah "If you did not do them at home" is not an irrealis but describes an action in the past, so I would write, "If you did not do them at home, you can do them now." – Christophe Strobbe Jan 18 '17 at 16:18

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