kindly help me which one is correct.

Situation:two guys are talking to each other, suddenly, the first guy has asked the second guy a favor.

First guy:can you talk to that girl and get her number? Second guy: I think, I would just screw up if I did/do that.

Which one is the correct verb tense here 'did' or 'do'? Thx very much.


2 Answers 2


Your given situation fits the first conditional, since the imagined situation of him screwing up is quite likely (at least in his opinion).

So, it is:

I think, I would just screw up, if I do that.

  • 1
    No, in remote conditionals, it should be the modal preterite "did". Present tense "do" would only work with the open conditional "will", i.e. "I will just screw up if I do that".
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 7:56
  • @Geshode: A misleading answer. This doesn't explain at all why you wouldn't use the "second conditional". I can obviously say "If I took poison, I would die", even if the dying would be highly likely. It is the taking of the poison that is being specified as unlikely. Similarly then, if I said "If I did that, I would screw up", it's the doing it that's being represented as unlikely, not the screwing up. Further, if you used the first conditional, why wouldn't you use "will"?
    – rjpond
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 7:56

[1] I think I would just screw up [if I did that].

[2] I think I will just screw up [if I do that].

In the apodosis of a remote conditional like [1] a modal preterite is required, thus "did" is correct.

But in an open conditional like [2], a present tense verb is required, so "do" would be correct here.

Note: a remote conditional is one where the condition is not fulfilled or is a relatively remote possibility whereas an open conditional is one that is neutral as to whether the condition is or will be met.

  • You beat me to it :) Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 10:30

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