If there was ample affordable housing, the rent level would have been much lower.

In the above sentence I tried to express this idea that, currently, there is not enough housing therefore the prices are high. I used would have been because I am going to enforce this idea that it is not possible to fix the issue anymore, because there is a shortage of housing. In other words:

  • Condition: present time, it is not about the past time
  • Result: A situation that cannot be changed.

Considering these points, have I used the mixed conditional correctly?

1 Answer 1


The best way to work out hypothetical conditionals is to first think of what you want to say as a simple conditional:

If there is ample affordable housing, the rent will be much lower.

To convert it to a hypothetical conditional, You convert the verbs to their subjunctive form. The be-verb has a special subjunctive were: for all other verbs, you backshift (the same as you do for reported speech). Taking the sentence above, you get:

If there were ample affordable housing, the rent would be much lower.

Your suggested sentence is incorrect: was should be were- though you will hear was in informal, spoken English.

Also, it probably doesn't mean what you want to say: would have been relates to a situation that happened in the past, rather than to the present.

For example, if a friend tells you that their car broke down yesterday, you could say:

If I had been there, I would have been able to fix it for you.

As I understand it, a mixed hypothetical conditional is one where the two clauses relate to different times.

First, let's look at how we convert a simple (non-mixed) sentence to a simple conditional. We do it by adding If and a consequence-word, for example will or can.This sentence has two present tense clauses:

I have money, I feel happy.
If I have money, I will feel happy.

Now start with a mixed simple sentence, with a past simple clause and a present simple clause:

I invested a thousand back then, I have nearly thirty thousand now.

We convert it to a mixed simple conditional by adding if and will. Mixed simple conditionals are grammatical but don't always make sense, as with this one:

If I invested a thousand back then, I will have nearly thirty thousand now.

Now convert it to a mixed hypothetical conditional by adding a backshift:

If I had invested a thousand back then, I would have nearly thirty thousand now.

  • But it is second conditional. I am asking about mixed conditional
    – a.toraby
    Jul 18, 2021 at 7:12
  • @a.toraby I think that you are over-complicating things. Let me repeat what I said. Make a simple conditional that expresses what you want to say, then convert the verbs to subjunctive, as described above, to make a hypothetical conditional. This works for both second and mixed conditionals.
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 18, 2021 at 11:40
  • Thank you but you didn't say, what I have written is wrong or correct?
    – a.toraby
    Jul 19, 2021 at 2:03
  • @a.toraby I have added a comment on your sentence to my answer.
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 19, 2021 at 2:20
  • So what is the usage of mixed conditions? Could you please give an example of mixed condition that works well!?
    – a.toraby
    Jul 19, 2021 at 6:51

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