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I’m learning conditional sentences recently ,and I’m confused by the two sentences below because they don’t seem to fit any type of conditional sentences my grammar book categorizes.

I think they look like mixed conditionals of type 2 and 3, but I’m not sure.

According to the book, the the main clause of type 2 is accompanied by common modals such as will, can, may, might, should; And the main clause of type 3 is accompanied by the modals would or could.

I’m not sure if I can use would in type two. If I can, what would be the the difference between using will and using would(I don’t even know whether this sentence is correct anymore😨).

Here are two sentences extracted from The Economist. Could you tell me which categories do they belong?

But it would be a surprise if the presidential election scheduled to take place in Venezuela is allowed to threaten the position of the country’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

That would be make it seem like a type 3, but that is allowed to seems like a type 2.

Finding a viable way to mine outer space’s plentiful supplies of platinum, for example, would surely lead to a meteoric descent in the price of the metal.

Is this even a conditional sentence? The book says nothing of this kind. Why did the author use would instead of will here? That would makes it sound like a past tense.

Thank you!

———————————————————— Skip this if you already know what conditional sentences are.

Here’s what the Top 20 grammar book says about the four types of conditional sentences. type 1type 2type 3type 3type 4type 4

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Your first example:

But it would be a surprise if the presidential election scheduled to take place in Venezuela is allowed to threaten the position of the country’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

You are right to assume this is a type 3 conditional, according to the classifications in your book. If the Economist writers were following the strict rules that your book proposes, then the proper way to write this sentence would be:

But it would be a surprise if the presidential election scheduled to take place in Venezuela were allowed to threaten the position of the country’s dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

I would have written it that way, although as your text pointed out, many English speakers would have written was. Still, I don't think most speakers would combine "would" with "is." I'd say it's a grammatical error. Either "will" with "is" (which would make it a type 2) or "would" with "were" (which would make it a type 3) is much more correct here.

Your second example:

Finding a viable way to mine outer space’s plentiful supplies of platinum, for example, would surely lead to a meteoric descent in the price of the metal.

This is another form of the type 3 conditional, although your book doesn't seem to cover it. The first part isn't worded using an "if" statement, but a gerund phrase like this, followed by "would" is another proper way to describe something imaginary. It could be reworded like this without changing the meaning, at all:

If we found a viable way to mine outer space’s plentiful supplies of platinum, for example, it would surely lead to a meteoric descent in the price of the metal.

Note that you can also use infinitive constructions this way: "To find a viable way . . . would surely lead . . . "

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    Thank you Joiedevicre. The article from which I extracted the second example was about a great possibility of prospecting the moon before 2022. If there’s a great chance, why did the author choose to use type 3 over type two? It’d make sense in type 2, right? Judging by the tense, does it have a connotation that the author might have reservation over this(ie., the author might think the prospect of mining off-world ground in the near future is unlikely)? – Jasmine Kuo Dec 16 '17 at 6:43
  • @JasmineKuo, sometimes a writer can choose between type 2 and type 3, and choosing type 2 may sound a little more optimistic, but the important point to remember is that both types are talking about possibilities! The author certainly could have said, "If we find a viable way . . . it will surely lead to . . . " But the author may have preferred the grammatical shortcut of using a gerund clause as the subject, and not having to use "it" as subject in the second clause. It flows a little better, and in this case, it doesn't really sound less optimistic. – joiedevivre Dec 16 '17 at 7:03
  • Can’t I use type 2 while using a gerund clause like “Finding a viable way... will surely ...”? It’d be the same as using type 2, wouldn’t it? – Jasmine Kuo Dec 16 '17 at 7:07
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    Another possibility is that this is just one example, among many possibilities, of how prospecting the moon might be beneficial, so the author is advancing one hypothesis as an example, and the author wants you to use your imagination and also imagine other examples on your own. – joiedevivre Dec 16 '17 at 7:53
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    I meant to give you the link of the article, but I couldn’t find it. It’s not available on the internet I guess. Based on what the rest of the article says, I think you’re right about the author wanting his readers to use their own imagination. Thank you very much! – Jasmine Kuo Dec 16 '17 at 8:03

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