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I have grammar test with the following question:

We are having an exam tomorrow. If we ______ to study, we would go out tonight.

(A) Didn't have
(B) Don't have
(C) Hadn't
(D) Hadn't have

That looks like a type II conditional sentence, but I can't extrapolate it's examples to this specific case.

Can you please point out the right choice here, and explain it? (I would like to hear the explanation for incorrect options as well.)

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  • 98% of native speakers (of American English) will say A. One percent might say C. That is my argument for both why A is correct in American English, and why the others aren't. Usage determines what is grammatical. – green_ideas Aug 6 '17 at 13:58
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    'Have to' takes do-support for interrogatives and negations, (B') 'If we don't have to study, we will go out tonight' is correct, but the counterfactual usage is (A) 'If we didn't have to study, we would go out tonight.' // Note that colloquial 'have got to' doesn't take do-support: 'If we hadn't got to study, we would go out tonight.' – Edwin Ashworth Aug 6 '17 at 13:58
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"Conditional if" deals with three types of sentence as given hereunder: 1. If you work hard, you will pass. (1st part is Present Indefinite Tense and 2nd part is Future Indefinite Tense). 2. If you worked hard, you would pass. (1st part is Past Indefinite Tense and in 2nd part we use 'would'). 3. If you had worked hard, you would have passed. (In 1st part we use 'had with 3rd form of the verb' and in 2nd part 'would have with 3rd form' is used).

In the existing case the second part contains 'would' so the first part will have be in Past Indefinite Tense. So the sentence becomes: If we didn't have to study, we would go out tonight.

Source : "Conditional If" sentences in English. The referred video is yet not in English version but still may prove useful.

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    -1 because there are at least 100 more conditional sentences than the three you mention. Search for 'conditional' on this website. – green_ideas Aug 6 '17 at 14:54
  • Follow-up question then: why didn't have and not hadn't have? They both sound like a Past Indefinite – Alex Abdugafarov Aug 6 '17 at 15:00
  • @AlexAbdugafarov : There is 'would go' in the 2nd part, so in the 1st part we need to use 'Past Indefinite Tense. In the Past Indefinite Tense we use 2nd form of verb for affirmative sentences and for negative sentences - we use "didn't with first form". Hadn't is not used in Past Indefinite Tense. – Rajinder Goswami Aug 6 '17 at 15:10
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    @Alex: hadn't have is wrong no matter what. You need to use a past participle after hadn't, so it would be hadn't had. – Peter Shor Aug 6 '17 at 15:15
  • Had + past participle is always followed by "would have + past participle" – Rajinder Goswami Aug 6 '17 at 15:36

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