Which one is correct ?:

1)-"If you had been eating well you wouldn't be scrawny."

2)-"If you was eating well you wouldn't be scrawny."

3)-"If you ate well you wouldn't be scrawny."--> this's incorrect because it's second conditional to talk about future/present ( If you did this, this would happen, even if the verb is in the past.) right ?

1 Answer 1


#1 is fine. That's the mixed type conditional: if this thing had happened (in the past), then (some present conditional or perfect conditional).

#2 is wrong because in standard English you never say "You was". If you change it to "If you were eating well...) it would be fine, because then it would be a present unreal conditional, of Type 2, using were because of the subjunctive mood. If you were eating well (right now), then you wouldn't be scrawny.

#3 is also fine! It's actually just Type 2 again: simple past + present conditional or present continuous conditional. The Type 2 can be used to talk about the present or future. Yes, it looks weird to use the simple past with a statement about the present or future, but in this context ate doesn't really refer to the past the way that had been eating does; it's the way we use the "simple past" to refer to a general hypothetical condition: If you ate well (in general, without any time reference), you wouldn't be scrawny.

Reference: Conditional

  • Yes sorry initially I wrote "I "was but changed it to "you" and forgot was, the third is a type 2 as you said, but I was taught to use to to talk hypothetically about the present/future so the third one to me means " if hypothetically you eat well you won't be scrawny.(either now or in the future)" the one i'd use is the first i just wanted to be sure, thanks. Oct 22, 2017 at 17:40
  • Even if you write "I" instead of "you" in no. 2, it would be "I were" because it would be in the past subjunctive mood. All three examples are classic examples of the subjunctive; no. 1 is in the past perfect subjunctive and nos. 2 and 3 are just in the past subjunctive.
    – Nick
    Oct 23, 2017 at 4:22

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