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Here are two sentences which, in my opinion, can't be both right.

Said in the morning:

If it rains this afternoon, then yesterday's weather forecast will be wrong.

If it rains this afternoon, then yesterday's weather forecast was wrong.

Sticking to the rules, the first one is correct because we won't know if the forecast is right or wrong before later in the day. (Conditional type 1)

But, following the logic — the second one doesn't seem incorrect because the forecast was already wrong yesterday, but this will be proved later today when we say: Yesterday's forecast was wrong."

My questions are:

Which of the two is grammatically correct, and if it is the first one, why not the second (and vice versa)?

Would it be correct with would in the main clause:

If it rains this afternoon, then yesterday's weather forecast would be wrong.

If it would, what type of conditional would it be then?

Any helpful answer will be highly appreciated.

  • Neither. "would have been" – user3169 Jun 21 '16 at 20:20
  • @user3169 What type of conditional it would be then, I wonder. – VictorB Jun 21 '16 at 20:26
  • Purely from a casual-speaking perspective, #1 sounds wrong because the forecast already is or isn't wrong, we just don't know it yet, so "will be wrong" doesn't sound right. #2 sounds much better to me. @user3169 - are you saying that "If it rains this afternoon, then yesterday's weather forecast would have been wrong" is how you would phrase it? That sounds really strange to me, because "would have been" is about a past hypothetical, but nothing in this scenario (save the making of the prediction) takes place in the past. – stangdon Jun 21 '16 at 21:19
  • @stangdon I would be very grateful if you could make this, with a bit more of explanation, your answer. – VictorB Jun 21 '16 at 21:41
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If it rains this afternoon, then yesterday's forecast ______ wrong.

You are taking about a forecast given in the past, therefore you can refer to it using past tense verbs.

Its accuracy or correctness is not yet known, so you can refer to it using non-past verbs.

Any of the following are grammatical:

is
was
will be/would be/can be/could be/must be/has to be/had to be/should be/ought to be/need be
is going to be
is to be

will have been/would have been/could have been/might have been/must have been/has to have been/had to have been/should have been/ought to have been

Even the following cannot absolutely be ruled out:
was to be
was going to be
has been

Even a simpler sentence such as

The score of yesterday's ballgame _____ 7-3.

can work with about the same number and variety of past or non-past verbs, including, simply:

is
was
will be
would be
etc

You have both a past event and an outcome that is, in this case, known and still true in the non-past. You can talk about the score from the point of view of the past or non-past.

  • Thank you very much for taking your time to read and answer. Together with Stangdon's comment, which seems to contradict you partially but by all means is to be taken note of, your detailed answer has been taken into thoughtful consideration. I'm willingly upvoting it for the effort you've taken trying to help me. Greatly appreciated, indeed. – VictorB Jun 22 '16 at 9:04
  • Can you explain how "The score of yesterday's ballgame will be 7-3" makes sense from a semantic point of view? It might be grammatically correct, but it's very hard to think of any way in which you would ever actually use it. The only way I can think of is in a construction like "If the referee's ruling on Duncan's last play is overturned, then the score of yesterday's ballgame will be recorded as 7-3" but in a simple sentence it's not very idiomatic, IMO. – stangdon Jun 22 '16 at 11:52
  • A friend tells you: The Internet lists the score of yesterday's ballgame as 6-3. But that's not correct, because I went to the game and know the correct score. Do you know what the score will be if I look it up in the newspaper? You can reply: (Yes, I've read the newspaper and know it recorded the correct score.) The score of yesterday's ballgame will be 7-3. @stangdon Rompey et al. – Alan Carmack Jun 22 '16 at 13:18

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