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I am working on my scholarship exam practice and I am not sure where I got it wrong. Could you please have a look?

If we had started studying Spanish three years ago, we (.....) much more fluent in it now (A) were (B) will be (C) would be (D) would have been

The answer provided is (C) would be. However, I answered (D) would have been instead because I thought it was type 3 conditional sentence, indicated by "had started" so main clause should be perfect conditional. Why is the answer (C)? Is it something to do with the word "now" at the end of the sentence.

Please advise.

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  • Because the type 2 and 3 conditionals they teach in ESL classes are a great simplification of the actual structure of conditionals in English. Search for "mixed conditionals". – Peter Shor Jun 15 at 18:52
  • I can't speak to the test itself, but both C and D make sense and are idiomatic. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jun 15 at 19:07
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Don't overthink it. It's a conditional sentence, so you definitely need "would." Since the second clause takes place in the present, it's present conditional: "we would be much more fluent in it now."

The only weird thing you have to remember is that to set up the conditional, you use a past tense one step before the frame of reference rather than the word "would."

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