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Doing exercises on this site on conditionals I came across these sentences:

  • We would take another route if they had not closed the road. (Explanation for the choice: Action in the past that has an influence on the present)
  • What would you do if you were accused of murder?(Explanation for the choice: normal Conditional Sentence Type II; also possible as Exception Type III (Action in the past that has an influence on the present.))

I am wondering in which situation and context I could use the first sentence. The choice of the Mixed conditional doesn't make sense to me in this sentence. It'd rather choose the first, second or third conditional.

What about the second one, I understand why the second conditional is used there. But I can't understand why there is a possibility to choose the Mixed conditional? "What would you do if you had been accused of murder?" - this variant does not make sense to me. If there was the third conditional, I would agree with the choice.

What do you think of this? Thanks in advance!

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    The first example is strange, because it sounds wrong: usually you would take another route if they did close the road! But I suppose that if you are talking about the road you would take if it weren't closed, that sentence could be correct.
    – stangdon
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 19:32
  • For the first I think something close that sounds natural is "We would've taken another route if they had closed the road", but as stangdon said, it's strange right now. I don't really understand what you're confused about with the second conditional, maybe you can edit your post
    – Riolku
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 20:01
  • I said that I understand why the second conditional is in the second sentence. I don't understand the explanation to the second sentence, in which it is said that we can use the Mixed Conditional.
    – Olga
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 20:07
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    For the first sentence: "When I was growing up, we would walk to school along Main Street if it was closed to traffic, but we would take another route if they had not closed the road." Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 2:49

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The first sentence is certainly strange, and I agree with you that mixed conditional isn't ideal in that example. If you had to use that sentence, the only possibly applicable situation that comes to mind is if you were telling someone else about the road being closed, i.e.

A: "Why don't you guys take another route?"

B: "We would take another route... if they hadn't closed the road."

But even that doesn't really roll off the tongue.

As for the second example, a similar situation applies. I'll try to provide a context for you:

student A: "I don't understand that character's actions at all!"

student B: "Exactly! He should have tried harder to prove his own innocence."

teacher: "Well, class, let's discuss. What would you do if you had been accused of murder in the 1960s?"

I've bolded the last part to illustrate how an additional phrase might be used to clarify or further add onto the sentence's meaning.

In the second example, the difference between the mixed conditional and second conditional is the specificity of timeframe. The second conditional uses past-tense verbs, but still refers to an improbable situation in the present. The mixed conditional in this case refers to an improbable situation in the past.

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