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I've been trying to play around with mixed conditional clauses and inversion. These topics are obviously not the easiest ones, so I have experienced some issues.

My sentence:

Weren’t professionals from Amazon to explore AI and deep learning so vigorously, these vital spheres of science wouldn’t have gone mainstream, gaining popularity and ubiquity.

First off, I am not entirely sure that this sentence is correct. Secondly, I would like to show that the process of exploring is continuous. However, I’ve read that you have to replace if with were and change the verb to the infinitive with “to” (2nd conditional). Without inversion it is quite straightforward (I guess): “If they weren't exploring …”. Could you please help me out? I can’t get my head around it.

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    briefly, consider "Were professionals from Amazon not to be exploring AI and deep learning so vigorously, ..." – Justin Stafford Jan 6 at 17:42
  • I'm sorry to tell you that your question is even more complicated than your sentence. – lee Jan 6 at 17:42
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    I think you should avoid the contraction here; sounds weird to me - "be" is an important word there – Justin Stafford Jan 6 at 17:43
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    And just for a little more info, "Were professionals from Amazon not to have been exploring AI... – Justin Stafford Jan 6 at 17:44
  • Justin Stafford, thanks a million. Without contraction and with "to be exploring" it definitely sounds like a correct sentence. Can you please elaborate a little bit more on replacing the rule ... the verb to the infinitive with “to” with to have been exploring. Can I actually use any appropriate time after “to”? I mean, can it be not only infinitive? – Suprema tism Jan 6 at 17:51
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Weren’t professionals from Amazon to explore AI and deep learning so vigorously, these vital spheres of science wouldn’t have gone mainstream, gaining popularity and ubiquity.

You can't use a contraction like "weren't" as part of conditional inversion.

(With a simple statement, the word order "I was not ..." becomes "Was I not?" in a question - one only rarely comes across "Was not I?", but the contraction "Wasn't I?" is perfectly normal. However, with a conditional inversion, the negative form "Were I not ..." does not get contracted to "Weren't I".)

"Were ... not to have explored" or (as someone suggested) "were ... not to have been exploring" might just about be acceptable, but they still sound awkward - and to my mind we are discussing a hypothetical past, so the past perfect is appropriate for the condition clause.

The correct sentence would be:

Had professionals from Amazon not explored AI and deep learning so vigorously, ...

(inverted from "If professionals from Amazon had not explored...").

This would also work:

Had professionals from Amazon not been exploring AI and deep learning so vigorously, ...

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  • Thanks for your answer. I agree that "weren't" is not acceptable at all. In fact, I've already quit using contractions when it comes to inversion :) – Suprema tism Apr 25 at 11:33
  • I've thought about using the 3rd conditional, but I want to convey the idea that they have been working (they were and they are working). "Were I not so shy, I would have married her a long time ago". I am shy, and I didn’t marry her. In this case, my personality trait – shyness – is a part of my nature (it’s timeless, sort of. I was and I am shy), so it makes sense to use “if I were not so shy” instead of “if I had not been so shy”. And I am wondering whether it is possible to use the same logic with regard to continuous actions such as “were working”. Hope it makes sense. – Suprema tism Apr 25 at 11:33
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    Yes, you could say "If professionals from Amazon were not exploring ..." and combine it with "these vital spheres wouldn't have been..." in the result clause. In this case, I would avoid the inverted form "Were professionals from Amazon not exploring ...", though - but I can't currently put my finger on why. – rjpond Apr 25 at 11:46
  • Thanks. For some reasons, I actually have the same feeling about inversion in this case. It just doesn't sound "right" if I can say so. – Suprema tism Apr 25 at 12:10

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