It’s wrong to treat animals as if they had no feelings. [Source] (What's the meaning of this unknown (for me) Conditional?)

As I understand this sentence, here is used some Conditional. But what exactly conditional? It's not 0, or 2 conditional, right? Is it not better to use zero Conditional here?

It’s wrong to treat animals as if they have no feelings. (because of we describe general fact)

  • We get this same question over and over again. "have no feelings" posits an existing situation. "had no feelings" is just less probable. [Reminder: a conditional is used here, not here is used a conditional]
    – Lambie
    Dec 7 '21 at 23:18
  • In the given examples, I don't hear any difference in meaning. Dec 7 '21 at 23:34
  • The "Past" tense version quite naturally implies "further from the Present" (anywhere from less likely to known to be untrue). Compare If he had it, he'd give you it (strong implication: we know he hasn't got it), and If he has got it, he'll give you it (maybe he has it, and maybe he doesn't; we just don't know). Dec 8 '21 at 15:15

It is essentially a second conditional, a condition that is unreal or improbable.

You may understand this as "It's wrong to treat animals in the way that you would treat them if they had no feelings"

The condition is "animals have no feelings". The author considers this false (and so the structure is a second conditional, with a past tense verb), but the author asks you to imagine the hypothetical situation, and imagine how you would treat animals if they really did not have any feelings.

The author asserts that treating animals this way is (morally, ethically) wrong.

  • why do you think that it's 2nd conditional, if 2nd conditional form is "If + Past, would + infinitive"? If it was 2nd conditional, then it would be: "It would be wrong to treat animals as if they had no feelings." (not "It’s wrong to treat animals as if...")
    – Sergei
    Dec 8 '21 at 9:49
  • It is expressing a hypothetical situation using "if + past tense". That is the definition of second conditional. However remember that the 0, 1st 2nd, 3rd conditional system is a "lie to children" It is just their to help beginners learn that the past tense in a conditional might not mean past time. In fact lots of "mixed conditional" forms are grammatically correct. However this is just regular second conditional, with past tense.
    – James K
    Dec 8 '21 at 20:42

If she has feelings for you, that would be great.

have feelings= an existing state of affairs.

If she had feelings for you (but I don't think she does), that would be great, too.

In the second case, there is a less likely chance of her having feelings for you.

  • If you have a ball (I think you probably do),let's kick it around now.
  • If you had a ball (I think you might not have one), we could kick it around now. The second one is what you say when the chances of the thing are not great.

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