I was wondering which conditional would be appropriate in the following argument.

There's no evidence to support the opposition's claim that a black hole resulted from the supernova. Furthermore, if a black hole (had) resulted from the supernova, then our instruments would have detected it. Thus, the opposition is wrong.

I was thinking of using the third conditional to express confidence that the black hole did not result, but then I realized that suggesting the impossibility of the black hole resulting from the supernova in a premise might be circular.

So, my question is should I keep the third conditional

If a black hole had resulted from the supernova...

or change the "if" clause to simple past

If a black hole resulted from the supernova...


  • 2
    The grammatical question is whether you want the if clause to be saying that the black hole is counterfactual (use past perfect) or simply to not commit yourself one way or the other as to whether a black hole resulted or not (use simple past). They both work here, and the question is which is more appropriate to use in a debate. – Peter Shor Jul 16 '17 at 0:24
  • I've moved the discussion about conditionals to chat. Please feel free to continue it there - I think it's a valuable discussion, but it's detracting somewhat from the question. – ColleenV parted ways Jul 16 '17 at 20:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.