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I am really confused about this sentence. I just hope I would be helped over here. I discussed this question with one of my friends who is also an English teacher.

What would you do if it _______on your wedding day.

1 - rains.
2- rained.

I selected the option ( 1 ). My friend told me that you have to use "rained" because "would" is used over here. After that I shared my remarks with him. I said to him, "We will use 'rains' because this sentence matches with first conditional sentence. It will be " rains ". I said we can use " would " instead of "will". He asked me the reason. I said it is better to use " would" instead of "will" in present day English. Now, I am actually confused that he is not agreed to my remarks. Let's see how I am being helped here.

  • 3
    Your friend is right. “What will you do [future] if it rains [future] on your wedding day?” is fine, as is “What would [hypothetical] you do if it rained [hypothetical] on your wedding day?”. But mixing the two makes for an odd sentence. You’re asking what someone would do in the hypothetical case that it non-hypothetically rains. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 22 '16 at 18:28
  • Can we use "would" instead of "will" by taking this sentence? – I don't know who I am. Dec 22 '16 at 18:40
  • I can't get this to work as a first conditional. There may be times where would can replace will in a first conditional, but I don't think this is one of them. When talking about an actual wedding planned for the near future, you must use will. If there isn't a particular wedding under consideration, then it isn't a first conditional. If there is a particular wedding in mind slated to happen in the remote future, then it gets more complicated, but probably shifts to a second conditional. I might say "what would you do if it was to rain on your wedding day" in this case. – Phil Sweet Dec 22 '16 at 19:05
  • @PhilSweet, "if it were to rain..." is probably more correct – vpn Dec 23 '16 at 1:23
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What would you do if it rained on your wedding day?

What will you do if it rains on your wedding day?

The first example is a hypothetical, taking the subjunctive verbs would do and rained.

The second is about futurity -- the wedding is already scheduled -- so it takes the future in the main clause and the present indicative in the subordinate clause.

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In conditional sentences where the 'if' clause is concerned, this simple rhyme might help to remember a basic rule:

"'If', plus 'will' can make you ill,

'If, plus 'would' is seldom good."

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Your friend is right. But, to be honest, if you said "What would you do if it rains on your wedding day?" out loud, most native speakers would not notice the "mistake".

  • Whereas 'What will you do if it rained on your wedding day?' is decidedly odd. – Sydney Feb 19 '17 at 22:46

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