I would like to ask why in this youtube video at 2:30 time mark a girl says "If this were full, that would have been really badass". Instead of "If this had been full, that would have been really badass" (everything in the past) or "If this had been full, that would be really badass" (condition in past result in present)?

From what she said it sounds to me like she says that the cup should be full now (present) and that it "would have been badass" in the past which doesn't make sense to me. I would be fine with either both parts of the sentence in past or condition in past and the result in present but I'm confused with the wording which was used. That's at least how I was taught it.

Thank you.

EDIT: To make sure it's understood what puzzles me:

Sentence: If this were full, that would have been really badass.

Means to me: But it is not currently full and that is why it wasn't badass before.

(this is what it means according to any grammar book, website I went through since ages ago, for example but googling gives tons of other cases). But if that mug was full right know then it couldn't had been spilled before because if it had been spilled (before) then right after the mug could never be full (logic).

  • 1
    You are right: "If this had been full, that would have been really badass" is the standard way of expressing what is meant here, and that is the use you should employ. But in Real Life Conversations people don't pay as much attention to these things as we do on paper. Moreover, the whole system of realis/irrealis expression appears to be in the middle of what may turn out to be very far-reaching change. Jan 31, 2016 at 3:01
  • I edited my original question to make more clear what makes me confused, could you please check it if I get it correctly? Thank you.
    – Vico Lemp
    Jan 31, 2016 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


"If this were full" is a use of the subjunctive mood to express unreality (It isn't [N.B. present tense] full but if it were). You would not say "It isn't full but if it was". However, "If this were full, that would have been really badass" is wrong. It should be "If this were full, that would be really badass". "If this had been full, that would have been really badass" is correct - the reality is that it was not full [N.B. past tense] and we say what the consequence of fullness would have been .

  • But you can combine type 2 & 3 conditionals.
    – Schwale
    Jan 31, 2016 at 13:18
  • I'm getting more and more confused with all the different opinions on this topic :-).
    – Vico Lemp
    Jan 31, 2016 at 14:26
  • Have you tried the internet, e.g. grammarist.com/grammar/subjunctive-mood en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_subjunctive Jan 31, 2016 at 14:46
  • Oh, I know about that and I study as much as I can. What confuses me is that you and Ustanak have different opinions on if the sentence in question is correct or not :-). Well just to be clear I'm studying british english if it could mean any difference considering the video is US english.
    – Vico Lemp
    Jan 31, 2016 at 16:07
  • 2
    @Vico relax your study of grammatical forms and pay attention to how native speakers speak. Native speakers (unless they are teachers of non-native speakers) never think in terms of first conditional second conditional, etc.
    – GoDucks
    Jan 31, 2016 at 19:50

What you would normally hear people say under those circumstances, when speaking casually, is:

If this was full, that woulda been really badass.

That is, if this cup had been full a moment ago, the gesture of tossing it in his face would have been really badass. was is used for present and past irrealis by many speakers.

People who have the word "badass" in their working vocabulary would be very unlikely to say "if this had been full" or "if this were full".

I think the only reason you're seeing if this were here instead of if this was is that this piece was a scripted educational spot and someone has edited the script for grammar, and that someone "knows" that it is "correct" to use were with if but doesn't have a firm grasp of the subtler issues of past irrealis.

It is also pretty hard to say if thissud been full.

  • Would like to know the reason(s) for the objections. Is it an objection to the remark about the register of "badass" and the register of "if this had been" making them unlikely to be found in the same utterance? Or an objection to statement that we'd most likely find "if this was full, that woulda been really badass". Feb 1, 2016 at 13:40

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