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I'd like to construct a sentence, but I just can't decide if it's incorrect, or correct.

The sentence is

If you wouldn't remind me to breathe, I would be dead for years.

It's a part of a conversation, where person A often acts like person B's walking conscience, and person B is quite annoyed by that, so he sarcastically says that if he wouldn't be reminded to breathe, he'd already be dead, mocking person A for his motherlike reminders, which person B doesn't think necessary.

"If you didn't remind to breathe, I would be dead for years" sounds quite off to me, but since I'm not a native speaker, obviously I can be mistaken and that's why I'd like to ask for help.

Please help me out, I feel so uncertain.

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    If you make the description of what you are trying to say longer and more detailed, then I think it might help users understand how to help you.
    – Em.
    Jul 23 '16 at 23:02
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    That sentence is almost certainly wrong--it doesn't appear to fit any natural situation--so as Max says, we need to understand what you're trying to say. Jul 23 '16 at 23:05
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    Perhaps you mean "If you hadn't reminded me to breathe then I would now have been dead for many years"? Jul 23 '16 at 23:06
  • Well, it's a part of a conversation, where person A often acts like person B's walking conscience, and person B is quite annoyed by that, so he sarcastically says that if he wouldn't be reminded to breathe, he'd already be dead, mocking person A for his motherlike reminders, which person B doesn't think necessary. I hope this clears things up?
    – user38210
    Jul 23 '16 at 23:08
  • Yes, this is the kind of description that you should include in all of your posts.
    – Em.
    Jul 23 '16 at 23:20
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The standard verb form for the protasis of a counterfactual conditional is the so-called "past subjunctive" (which is identical to the past except for the single word 'were'), so

If you didn't remind me to breathe ...

is the standard form, and the only possible one for many speakers (including me).

There is, though, a fairly common dialectal variation which substitutes "would":

If you wouldn't remind me to breathe ...

I would not say this, but many people would. My impression is that this is a distictively American form, but I haven't researched it.

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If s/he's being sarcastic it might be:

"I'd be dead if you didn't remind me to breathe."

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  • Thank you so much for the answers, it helped me a lot, I think I'll go with the last one!
    – user38210
    Jul 24 '16 at 14:04
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Native NAmE speaker here...I'd say something like "If you didn't keep reminding me to breathe, I'd have been dead years ago."

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It's purely an unreal or hypothetical situation in the past; the sentence should be conditional type 3 as follows:

If you had not reminded me to breathe, I would have been dead for years now.

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