I came across this "if conditional" and I have no idea if it's correct or wrong. I said:

If you came to have a good time, push your fingers up

I've not faced such an if statement before, as far as I know, all if conditionals that come with an imperative, join with present tenses. As an example:

If you should see him, give him the book

Sometimes conditionals get really complicated. I have no problem with other types of conditionals like mixed ones and so on though.

Could you clarify the issue?

  • Note that both of your example sentences employ imperatives, push and give; this is identical with the infinitive form, which in turn is identical with the 'plain' present form for every verb except BE. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 11:58
  • @StoneyB Not quite ;-) There is one more verb which doesn't have a present tense form the same as the imperative ... Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:22
  • @Araucaria Eh? ... What have I overlooked? Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:38
  • @StoneyB Beware has no tensed form! ;-) Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:45
  • 1
    @Araucaria Clever ... but then you've also got to count Begone! Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:47

2 Answers 2


A more natural, everyday example might be useful. Here is a situation: You go to a concert. There are two doors to go into the building. Door A is for people who need to pay for their ticket. Door B is for people who paid online (on the internet), and already have their tickets. When you get to the concert there is a sign:

  • If you paid for your ticket online, go to door B.

This sign is saying that if it is true now that you paid for your ticket already (in the past), you should go to Door B (now).

We cannot use a present tense here, it won't work:

  • If you pay for your ticket online, please go to Door B. (wrong)

I don't know if this is helpful, but I hope so.


The first sentence is nothing unusual: it's just a condition based on your reason for being here - "why you came". There is no problem about making a current imperative conditional on a past event:

If you were born on a Friday, raise your hand

should in the second sentence is a relatively unusual, formal and, to my ear, old-fashioned usage. Here is a definition:

should used when referring to a ​possible ​event in the ​future:

If anyone should ​ask for me, I'll be in the manager's ​office.

Should you ​ever need anything, ​please don't ​hesitate to ​contact me.

In the first example, and in your second sentence, it can be omitted altogether without changing the meaning. It functions as a modal,so it is necessary to change ask->asks when it is removed. In the second example, it can be replaced by if.

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