I've seen someone quoted this (here) from CGEL:

As with open conditionals, all combinations of protasis and apodosis times are possible.
3) "If I went tomorrow, I would have more time in Paris." [a future remote conditional]

Since it says 'remote', I can assume the use of this past form with 'tomorrow' is to say something can't be fulfilled anymore, which means the 'closed/unreal/ conditional, so I have no problem with this.

Now I've seen a native speaker wrote this:

(......) if I wrote this sentence: "What if I drew (......)" You would interpret it as me (......)

I want to know if it's common to use the past form in your if-clause (grammatically in the form of the so-called 'closed/unreal' conditional) even when you mean to show doing it right after saying it. (I am wondering if it's because s/he was explaining the use of the past form with the if-clause, the writer simply attempted to use the same form even though it's not natural and actually very much causing us learners confused.)

All I want to know is if it's natural and common to you, native speakers.
Thank you.

1 Answer 1


I think this makes sense:

(......) if I wrote this sentence: "What if I drew (......)" You would interpret it as me (......)

There is a sense in which the writer has still not written the sentence.

Consider, I could say to you:

If I said "damn you!", you would be offended.

Have I said "damn you"? Not in the relevant sense.

I could write:

If I wrote "humor", you would be surprised (because I'm British and this is an American spelling).

I haven't actually written "humor" in the relevant sense. The conditional is referring to the use of the spelling "humor" in connected writing. Clearly the mention of it within quotation marks doesn't fall into the same category.

Your friend has not actually written the sentence "What if I drew..." in the sense of including it as something he is saying himself.


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