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India’s concern is that if it takes a decision that irks Generals in Myanmar, China would get closer to the junta and use the opportunity to hurt India’s interests in Myanmar.

I studied that would is used in subjunctive or hypothetical sentences. But here, Is the first part of the sentence “India’s concern is that If it takes a decision” hypothetical? I don’t think so. Then why would is used in later part?

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  • Your tenses are inconsistent. Use EITHER If X takes a step, Y will react, OR If X took a step, Y would react. Or go for the "full-blown" subjunctive If X were to take a step,... which is still "irrealis, hypothetical", so you'd still follow it with ...Y would react. Apr 10 at 12:45
  • Would you mind saying difference between “if X took a step” and “if X were to take a step” ? Apr 10 at 12:51
  • For the meaning we're discussing here, if X took a step and if X were to take a step are equivalent and interchangeable (but the shorter first version is far more common, especially in informal contexts). But whereas the second (explicitly "subjunctive") form can only refer to an unreal / hypothetical future possibility, the "Simple Past" version could refer to a past action (where speaker simply doesn't know whether X took that step of not, in the past). Apr 10 at 13:00
  • ...note that the explicit subjunctive form has been declining for centuries. Don't use it ay more than you have to. Apr 10 at 13:01
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India’s concern is that if it takes a decision that irks Generals in Myanmar, China would get closer to the junta and use the opportunity to hurt India’s interests in Myanmar.

Q. But here, Is the first part of the sentence “India’s concern is that If it takes a decision” hypothetical? I don’t think so. Then why would is used in later part?


Making hypotheses

A. The above is a conditional sentence. "if it takes a decision....China would get" and also a hypothetical one. Therefore it should have been written as "if it made/took a decision....China would get"

hypothetical C.E.D.; adjective; imagined or suggested but not necessarily real or true:

(Some conditional clauses are like hypotheses, so we use past tense forms). We use past tense forms to make suggestions about what might happen in the future:

Example

If we invited John, Mary would bring Angela. Ref British Council

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    I don't think you've fully understood or fully answered the OP's question - which, effectively, is why the writer said "if it takes..., China would..." where we would expect to read either "if it took...., China would..." or "if it takes..., China will...". Your example uses the past tense in the condition clause ("if we invited"), whereas the OP's example uses the present tense ("takes") but combines that with "would".
    – rjpond
    Apr 10 at 10:19
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    @rjpond, sorry I stand corrected. I thought the base question was "Subjunctive mood usage in Conditionals" with the secondary question "Then why would is used in later part"? I have now address your concerns and edited the reply.
    – Brad
    Apr 10 at 11:11
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The first part of the sentence “India’s concern is that if it makes a decision” IS hypothetical. India might make a certain decision, or it might not. So "China would" (or "could") is appropriate. You could use "China will . . ."

(Also, "makes a decision" instead of "takes a decision" would be more common.)

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  • So both "India’s concern is that if it makes a decision" and "India’s concern is that if it made a decision" are hypothetical??? Apr 10 at 13:18

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