Using conditional sentence I want to express a situation but not able to decide which is correct sentence out of below 2. Could an expert please help me understand along with reason and if possible some online resource to read on same.

If I come, I would call you

If I came, I would call you

EDIT: Based on @Robusto's comment I have updated my question to correct the main clause i.e. instead of "I will call you", now I have edited and changed to "I would call you". So, this corrects my sentence little bit but my primary question still remains unanswered about "If I come" or "If I came".

  • You still have it wrong if you make them both would. The first should be will, and the second would, and they have different meaning. – SamBC Apr 15 at 13:32

Telling you what you should use is impossible without knowing what you're trying to say. However, both come and came can make an appropriate sentence here. As currently written, only one of your examples is grammatical. As originally written, before your edit, that was also true - but you swapped which one was grammatical. There's also a third and fourth option I'm going to throw in to help illustrate the point, and it may be that you actually want one of those.

If I come, I will call you.

This is making a conditional statement about the future. If clauses referring to the future use the present tense, but the action that is to be done in that event should be grammatically future. This is saying that, in the event that you come in the future, you will call them. This is essentially a conditional agreement or promise.

If I came, I would call you.

This is using the past to express a hypothetical. It looks like past and past, because would is the past form of will, but things aren't that simple. It has essentially the same meaning as the next choice:

If I were to come, I would call you.

Some people I've known consider this the 'correct' version of the previous option, because it expresses a hypothetical condition in the way they think is formally correct. It is certainly more formal than the previous.

If I had come, I would have called you.

This is making a statement entirely about the past. It implies that you didn't come, because it is asserting that you would have called if you had done so.

  • Thank u. Before I accept this answer, could u please clarify - (1.) I understood that first one If I come, I will call you is certainly showing future and last one is certainly showing past. But what about If I came, I would call you. - does it show present/past/future? (2.) If it also shows future then how first one and this one would differ. Basically if you could elaborate more on this then it would be helpful. Also, I see that u have good grammar, and I am trying to learn grammar, could u recommend some good online resources? As an aside - your answers have been really helpful to me. – pjj Apr 21 at 6:02
  • Since I have been getting a lot of useful answers from you so I think should clarify this to you that I am strictly looking answers which are acceptable from international English grammar perspective (not the British grammar) and grammatically correct from international exams perspective. Just a request, if you could take care of this while answering to me. Also, if you could help me in any way (suggestions, recommended readings. online resources etc.) to improve my English grammar then it would be greatly appreciated. – pjj Apr 21 at 6:13
  • I'm afraid I don't know what standard international exams hold people to - except that they are more rigorous than normal everyday usage. To be safe in that situation, I would avoid the second example. The purely hypothetical "in general" usage is the third one, the "what would have happened in the past if things had been different" usage is the fourth, and the "making conditional plans for the future" usage is the first. The second example is better illustrated with different verbs, such as "if I killed someone, I would admit it"; the usage scenario is the same as the third, hypothetical. – SamBC Apr 21 at 11:10
  • Good one, with the nice explanation. +1. – hagrawal Jun 5 at 20:36

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