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The sentences below are from BBC Learn English and when mentioning a future hypothetical situation with a past hypothetical result it is the past progressive tense used in all of the exemplary sentences.

  1. If I weren't getting up so early, I'd have come out for a drink tonight.
  2. If I weren't going to the wedding, I'd have agreed to visit you.
  3. If I weren't going on holiday next week, I could have attended the job interview.

But would it be incorrect if they used past simple in the if part of sentences in this context? For example: 'If I didn't get up so early, I'd have come out for a drink tonight.'

2 Answers 2

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They could have the same meaning, but only if the speaker is talking about habitual behaviour. If the speaker gets up early every day, they could say If I weren't getting up so early, or if I didn't get up so early (and the first suggests that this is a temporary habit).

But unless there is some context to establish a habitual reference, then if I weren't getting up so early refers to tomorrow, but if I didn't get up so early refers to this morning and so it is is not a hypothetical, and doesn't match the construction in the consequent.

In the other two examples, there is an explicit time reference, so they cannot be read in a habitual sense, and a simple past would make the two halves inconsistent, with the condition not hypothetical but the consequent hypothetical.

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The problem here is that you have ADDED an example to what was on the BBC site. Your example does not fit what the site is considering. The BBC is considering the case where the conditional clause is talking about an expected or planned event in the future with a result in the past. "Tonight" in your example is talking about a future result. Furthermore, your conditional clause seems to be talking about habitual action rather than exclusively future action.

To fit into the model being discussed by the BBC, your example should be

If weren't getting up so early, I would have gone out for a drink last night.

And because you are discussing habitual action, you could alternatively say

If I didn't get up so early, I would have gone out for a drink last night.

The BBC example about the job interview is not a good example. It is not clear why someone could not have gone to a job interview yesterday because they were leaving on a holiday next week, but that is the situation being contemplated. The much more plausible situation of not being able to go to a future job interview due to a future holiday would be expressed as

If were not going on holiday next week, I could go to the job interview.

The wedding example is much better. Here it is quite easy to imagine why someone did not agree in the past to a future visit because it would conflict with a future wedding.

Does this help?

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