1. If you were not blind, you would have avoided the other car.

This is unreal. I want to know what is the "corresponding" real situation:

  1. If you are not blind, you will have avoided the other car. (Viewing from the present)
  2. If you were not blind, you avoided the other car. (Talking about the situation in the past)

2 Answers 2


"Because you are blind, you didn't avoid the other car"

The corresponding real situation doesn't involve conditions, but causes and results. The cause is your blindness, and the result is you hit the other car.


Real situations don't contain "if". The corresponding situation might be something like

You are blind, so you did not avoid the other car.
You were blind, so you did not avoid the other car.

Or it might be

You are/were not blind, so you avoided the other car.

The conditional doesn't tell us which one happened; that's why it's a conditional. (From a logician's view, of course. We know which one happened, but inside the conditional itself, both are "unreal".)

We're also missing a distinction between past and present, which of course doesn't change the meaning much, but we can't quite convert it 1:1, hence the "are/were" uncertainty.

  • Thank you. But If it "were" in the real situation, shouldn't the original sentence be "If you hadn't been"? I'm a little confused.
    – ForOU
    Jun 1 at 7:47
  • @ForOU Yeah, in any practical case I can think of. I was trying to highlight how subjunctives and indicatives don't always line up perfectly, but this isn't the best example to show it (nor do I have the wits to think of a better one at this time of night). Jun 1 at 7:54
  • Real situations can contain if: "If he left at 4, he must be home by now." (This sentence can be uttered in the belief that he did leave at four, and the 'if' simply indicates that one is reasoning.) Jun 1 at 16:02
  • @LukeSawczak But "he must be home by now" is an assumption based on that premise and still not "real" until verified. Jun 1 at 18:01
  • 1
    @the-baby-is-you That's not what I understand to be meant by real/unreal in grammar, though. It's a matter of what one considers to be really the case (as 'must' means) vs. what one either denies or is doubtful of. Jun 1 at 18:25

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