If you don't listen to me, you were ruined.

Is the above-mentioned sentence correct? The speaker is sure that if the listener doesn't listen to him, the listener will be ruined. What perplexes me is the tense clash i.e. present in 1st clause and past in the 2nd; while the speaker is referring to FUTURE.

Que 2: Can we have PRESENT STATE, instead? As in:

If you don't listen to me, you are ruined.

Note that we're talking about certain future. We are SURE that not listening to us will cause the listener to be ruined.

  • 3
    Where did that sentence come from? As you say, it doesn't make any sense to use the past tense. Dec 24, 2020 at 9:03
  • I mean here it doesn't make any sense.
    – xeesid
    Dec 24, 2020 at 11:13
  • Please tell us who wrote or said the original sentence. Did you write it? Did you hear it? Do you have a link to the text? If you wrote it yourself, why are you perplexed? Dec 24, 2020 at 19:08
  • I read it in a book. It was a translation.
    – xeesid
    Dec 25, 2020 at 7:24
  • It's an unedited oversight.
    – Lambie
    May 27, 2021 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


You can read this in the sense of "if you don't listen to me, you must be a ruined person". The fact that you don't listen is proof that were ruined or broken in the past.

If that's what the author intended, it has the same sense as your present-tense example (you are ruined) but instead of making an observation about the kind of person you are now, the emphasis is more on the past, the event when you were ruined. If the people have been talking about some past event or trauma, this could be a way of asserting "when that happened, you were ruined - this is the proof".

  • This answer demonstrates how important how important context is in English. Dec 24, 2020 at 20:43

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