# Irregular Conditionals

I saw the following example sentence in this link:

If Gina would explain her situation a little better, I think they'd see where she's coming from.

As seen, both the if- and main clauses use the "would + infinite" form and the sentence does not fall into any of the well-known conditional constructions.

Given this observation (and some other ones), I wonder if it would be correct to say that the well-known conditional constructions only show the most common constructions, and other forms can be used too if the context requires.

• In your link, it fits Type 1. The "simple future" is "Gina would explain."
– Dan
Mar 9, 2022 at 2:34
• @Dan I think, there are two issues with your comment. First, "simple future" requires "will" not "would". Second, in Type 1, it is the main clause that takes the simple future form, not the if-clause. Am I missing something?
– Jeff
Mar 9, 2022 at 8:28

I interpret that would as being that past of the modal will in the sense of "be willing to".

When will has that meaning, we can use it in a non-counterfactual conditional:

If he will talk to us, then that will solve our problems.

means something different from the normal

If he talks to us, then that will solve our problems.

The second says nothing about his intention: he may not even know we want him to talk to us. The second is suggesting that he might be unwilling to talk to us, and the condition is his willingness as well as actually doing it.

In the same way If Gina would explain her situation a little better is slightly different from If Gina explained ..., because it suggests that the speaker thinks that she might not want to explain it.

If Gina would explain can also be a polite request to Gina.

• Thank you for your response!! So the above message can be equally expressed as follows: If Gina was willing to explain her situation a little better, I think they'd see where she's coming from. Or If Gina went ahead and explained her situation a little better, I think they'd see where she's coming from. Did I get it right?
– Jeff
Mar 8, 2022 at 23:58

Comparing this:

1. If Gina would explain her situation a little better, I think they'd see where she's coming from.

with

1. If Gina explained her situation a little better, I think they'd see where she's coming from.

I mostly hear a difference in tone. (1) sounds like a request that is trying to be polite. You could add "please" for instance:

1. If Gina would please explain her situation a little better...

(Obviously the situation where a request is made in the third person is somewhat limited, perhaps talking to a person who is acting on behalf of Gina...)

It also allows the possibility of words like "consider":

1. If Gina would consider explaining her situation a little better...

So, to me, there is more of a sense of being able to influence Gina in 1, whereas in 2, she is more remote.

• Great. Thank you for the insights!
– Jeff
Mar 9, 2022 at 8:24