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I got myself all confused. Can a while-clause be used with a second conditional to talk about a hypothetical situation? If so, then which form of verb does the tense after "while" take?

I was taught that using "will" after will/when is incorrect, but I'm not sure if the past form of "will" works.For e.g:

Person A : "Person 1 and Person 2 always seem to be engaged in an argument. I wonder what would happen if they went to the movies with person 3"

1) Person B: "If that happened, then they (person 1 and 2) would keep arguing while person 3 would be watching it alone" (both actions would occour at the same time)

2)Person B: "If that happened, then they would keep arguing while person 3 watches it alone"

3) Person B: "If that happened, then they (person 1 and 2) would keep arguing while person 3 watched it alone"

4) Person B: "If that happened, then they (person 1 and 2) would keep arguing while person 3 would watch it alone"

5) Person B: "If that happened, then they (person 1 and 2) would keep arguing while person 3 is watching it alone"

Another example to make things more clear.

Example 2:

1)If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 would be eating.( both eating and drinking would happen at the same time)

2) If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 is eating.

3) If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 ate.

4) If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 would eat.

5) If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 eats.

Any help would be appreciated.

  • I was taught that using "will" after will/when is incorrect - were you taught this rule exactly? Because it seems completely wrong to me. One of the most famous nursery rhymes in English includes the line "When the bough breaks, the baby will fall." – stangdon Jun 14 '16 at 12:32
  • My bad, I should've mentioned this earlier. I was told that I should avoid using "will" in the time-clause, and that's exactly what confuses me when I try to use "would" in a while-clause. – S.Khan Jun 14 '16 at 15:42
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To talk about unreal situations now or in the future, we use a past tense in the if-clause and would+bare infinitive in the main clause.

1)If person 1 and person 2 were here at the party, then person 1 would be drinking while person 2 would be eating.( both eating and drinking would happen at the same time)

Let's change your sentence a bit.

If they were here at the party, then he would be drinking and she would be eating.

While shows that both drinking and eating are simultaneous actions and we can use either continuous or simple tenses for both of them.

If they were here at the party, then he would be drinking /would drink. while she would be eating/would eat.

  • Thanks a lot for answering. Your answer's perfect. My doubts have been eliminated. – S.Khan Jun 14 '16 at 16:53

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