Which is correct?

If you were going to bet on that horse


If you are going to bet on that horse

  • 1
    Suggested migration to ell.se – Kris Jan 13 '14 at 7:29

"If you are going to" is appropriate when the action is a possibility in the near future. Examples

  • "If you are betting on that horse, you will lose a lot of money."

  • "If you are here early, i'll get you a good seat."

  • "If you are naughty, you will be punished."

"If you were going to" is more appropriate when referencing an action that could have been taken in the past but is no longer under consideration.

  • "If you were going to bet on that horse ,"

  • "If you were here 10 minutes ago, "

The use of "were" can get more complicated ,the sentences below use the "were to" clause to indicate an element of uncertainty to the actions and outcomes referenced.

  • "If you were to go home now, you might have a surprise waiting."

  • "If you were to confirm the order today , I could get you a

  • This answer best clarifies the various circumstances both options could be correct. As is typical (especially with the english language), context is everything. – Doc Jan 13 '14 at 16:33

"If you were" is used for something that is non-factual. In this case "if you are" is more suitable because he prolly gonna bet for the horse.


The first option is correct. However, this use of the subjuntive, may be even the subjunctive everywhere, is falling out of use. In some contexts it sounds too formal, and to some people it justs sounds wrong, so I think it might be good to consider your audience, or use it only in writing. Hope this helps.


If you use if you were, you describe something very unlikely or even impossible to happen in reality. Such as: If I were a millionaire, I would ...... or If I could fly, I would ......

In this case, both of them are acceptable, but the second one is more commonly used.

Check this wiki article for more about conditional clauses: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_conditional_sentences#Second_conditional

  • If you were can also imply that you had planned to do it. "If I were going to go home in an hour, would you come?" does not describe an unlikely or impossible scenario. – Doc Jan 13 '14 at 16:31

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