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Suppose my friend buys a lottery ticket on April 1st and finds out he has won a million dollars. On April 10th there will be a ceremony where he will get the money. But on April 2nd he loses the ticket. The same day we are both upset and I say to him:

If you had not lost the ticket, you would have gotten a million dollars.

Is it grammatically (disregard 'gotten') and semantically correct in this context? Should I have said "... you would win a million dollars" because the ceremony takes place in the future? It is not strictly correct that he actually would have gotten the money.

My only justification for the sentence above is that since the ticket is gone, we think of the entire lottery issue as being over, and hence the ceremony is over for us; so we talk about it in the past tense as if it already happened.

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Your first sentence:

If you had not lost the ticket, you would have gotten a million dollars.

is talking about a condition in the past that did not happen which is why there’s no possibility for this condition. So we are thinking about an impossible past condition. Consequently both the condition and the result are impossible now.

As a result your sentence is correct grammatically and logically in AE while in BE is ungrammatical because of gotten.

In your second example:

If you had not lost the ticket, you would win a million dollars.

the condition from the dependant clause (that did not happen) can’t grammatically and logically go with the main clause.

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  • As a result your sentence is correct grammatically and logically. Bear in mind that "gotten" is a US construction, and is ungrammatical in UK English (and possibly other areas). – starsplusplus Jun 2 '14 at 9:21

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