I was writing a conditional sentence when I found out that it was not in any conditionals grammar(type 0,1,2,3). I also think it is grammatically incorrect.

If I were the Prime Minister, I would never have killed the democracy.

If I were to go to Shimla, I would have travelled by train.

Do you think this sentence is wrong. I think, it's wrong because the If condition is referring to present and the result is referring to the unreal past. kindly tell if its wrong. I have corrected it to this :

If I were the Prime Minister, I would never kill the democracy.

  • Are you referring to a particular democracy, or to democracy as a concept? Oct 5 '20 at 13:27
  • @Kate Bunting ..democracy as a concept. Oct 5 '20 at 13:30
  • In that case, the should be omitted. I agree with you that your examples are incorrect. "If I were [the] PM, I would never kill democracy" or "If I had been... I would have...". Oct 5 '20 at 13:40

This is an example of a mixed conditional - while most conditional sentences follow the usual 0-1-2-3 patterns, it's perfectly valid to mix tenses between conditional clauses if it expresses the tense relationship better.

In your case, the unreal past in the result is meaningful - making it unreal implies that it wasn't the case in reality, perhaps because the actual Prime Minister has killed the democracy at some point. Your rewritten sentence states that you will not kill democracy in the future, but the example sentence states that you would not have done that at some point in the past. So you can't rewrite it this way without changing the meaning.

A better way to rephrase the sentence would be to use the third conditional:

If I had been the Prime Minister, I would never have killed democracy.

This is pretty much equivalent in meaning, but you usually don't need to specify clearly that your condition applies to the past, and so the mixed conditional is acceptable as well.

  • ....So what about this sentence: If I were to go to Shimla, I would have travelled by train. Here the result is meaningful or not? Oct 5 '20 at 13:33
  • 1
    @SudhirSharma "If I were to go" refers to a hypothetical future occurrence, so it doesn't really make sense to match it with "I would have travelled by train", which refers to an unreal past. The reason you can use a mixed conditional in your example is that "being a Prime Minister" is an ongoing thing that can be true both in the present and in the past your condition refers to. Oct 5 '20 at 13:38
  • Thanks,It cleared my doubt. I think its better to use a third conditional in my example to make things more simple. Oct 5 '20 at 13:47

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