conditional sentence containing both past and present tense. if clause(past)_main (present)

5

I was teaching and I asked students to do some class activity, but one of the students already had done that exercise at home so he didn't have anything to do in class.

I wanted to tell him something like he wasn't supposed to do that exercise at home.

How could I say this to him in conditional form?

Please imagine this is happening right now in the classroom.

Here are sentences that I've considered.

  • If you didn't do them at home, you could do it now like other students.

  • If you didn't do them at home, you could be doing it now like other students.

  • If you hadn't done them at home, you could be doing it now like other students.

Masih K

Posted 2016-12-23T09:52:22.260

Reputation: 1 073

3If you hadn't done them already ....you could be doing them now. You can make the student write that sentence out a thousand times to break his spirit. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-12-23T11:10:02.777

As TRomano quite gently points out, Masih, it's usually a bad idea to criticise a student, no matter how mildly you do it, for working at home. They will interpret criticism to mean that you consider your convenience to be more important than their desire to learn. A good teacher (you are the teacher, I presume?) prepares one or two exercises in reserve to give to students who have already done the exercise the other students are doing during that class period. – MMacD – 2016-12-23T11:53:00.413

Thanks for your recommendation. I didn't tell him anything. But it crossed my mind if I wanted to actually say that how could I state this sentence. I just wanted to make the situation more clear. – Masih K – 2016-12-23T12:20:20.897

@TRomano Sir, what about future. ''If you hadn't done them already you could do them tomorrow'' or ''you could be doing them tomorrow''. and can I use would instead of could in these cases. – Masih K – 2016-12-23T12:35:12.330

3The tense of the if-clause does not restrict the tense of the main clause. If you hadn't done them already, you 1) could do them now 2) could do them tomorrow 3) could be doing them now 4) could have done them in home-room this morning 5) could have been doing them as I walked in the room – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-12-23T12:45:04.137

"You could do them tomorrow if you hadn't done them already". There's a subtle difference in how you order the two clauses. Putting the future first sounds better to me, but they'd both be completely correct. – MMacD – 2016-12-23T12:45:17.707

@TRomano These are great answers. But I'm considering ''would'',too. which one is a better choice: If you hadn't done them already 1) you could be doing them now 2) you would be doing them now. or the sentences can be used interchangeably without much of a difference? – Masih K – 2016-12-23T13:00:49.377

@MMacD what's the difference? it doesn't change the meaning. right? – Masih K – 2016-12-23T13:02:03.263

If you hadn't done them already, you would be able to do them tomorrow. – Teacher KSHuang – 2016-12-23T17:33:27.410

@Masih K. You're right, it doesn't change the basic meaning and perhaps that's all that's really important. (I have to admit that I'm feeling a bit embarrassed at not being able to explain why putting the "you could" clause first is subtly better. I'm not usually at a loss to explain something, but I'm blanking on that one today. I know I know the explanation, but I just can't bring it to mind. Maybe TRomano can save me :-) ) – MMacD – 2016-12-23T17:47:26.537

@MMacD Actually, I would discourage skipping ahead when in a group setting. One, to keep the student from drawing the conclusion that the reward for taking initiative is more work, extra work, even, and two, to foster compassion and patience for those who may not be as fast or quick-witted as the child who had skipped ahead. – Teacher KSHuang – 2016-12-23T17:53:37.217

Meanwhile, Masih, to prevent this from happening again, my suggestion is you always have other exercises and activities ready as @MMacD suggests. However, you have everyone do them in class at the same time. The exercises that the student had done in advance should not be done in class so as not to put yourself in a situation such as what had happened. Think of it this way, if the students could just do the exercises at home, why do they need to come to class? So you have to make your class about the things they can't do at home. This is how you foster a drive to learn and curiosity. – Teacher KSHuang – 2016-12-23T17:59:31.250

And sorry to sound preachy, Masih and @MMacD. But as you can probably tell from my username, learning, encouraging learning and creating opportunities for motivation to learn are topics close to my heart. – Teacher KSHuang – 2016-12-23T18:04:50.297

@TeacherKSHuang to keep the student from drawing the conclusion that the reward for taking initiative is more work, extra work, even. I don't think that's an issue with people who work ahead. Their payoff for doing it is internal satisfaction -- they're goal-oriented, and often bored with the slow pace of the classroom, quite often even if they're in an advanced class. They work ahead to put the current work behind them, in hope that the next task will be more interesting. – MMacD – 2016-12-25T20:58:56.170

@MMacD I agree. I was just saying to prevent this conclusion from being drawn, do as such. And while those who take initiative may or may not draw this conclusion, you can bet that those who don't take initiative will draw this conclusion, so as a teacher in a group setting, we want to be mindful of both kinds of learners. – Teacher KSHuang – 2016-12-30T09:19:40.937

Answers

1

The correct version is

If you hadn't done them at home, you could be doing them now.

Other continuations are possible, as indicated in the comments.

"If you had (not) done ..." refers to a hypothetical situation in the past. (This form is often used to introduce the third conditional.)

By contrast, "If you didn't do them at home, ..." describes a different kind of condition, since it assumes that the student did not do the exercises at home (even though this had been suggested or even requested, which is a different situation than in the question). One way of completing this sentence is:

If you didn't do them at home, you can do them now.

Note that this last sentence is not an example of the second conditional, even though it also uses if + simple past. Unlike the second conditional, the "condition" expressed in the if-clause is known to be true.

Tsundoku

Posted 2016-12-23T09:52:22.260

Reputation: 1 623

The second suggestion doesn't indicate the conditional, which is used to describe something that would happen if something became reality: I would do it IF I HAD money. In the second suggestion, it sounds to me like a possibility: If you didn't eat in your house, then you can eat here. When talking about a possibility tense, such as your second suggestion, there must contain "then", as a result in the middle of the statement; If you didn't do them at home, 'then' you can do them now. – Davyd – 2016-12-27T16:45:04.207

Is it possible to use Past Unreal Conditional + Continuous? Like, If you had not done them at home, you could have been doing them now (like the other students). – Marah – 2017-01-18T15:29:28.373

@Marah I'd rather say, "If you had not done them at home, you would be able to do them now", or, if for some reason a continuous form is needed, "If you had not done them at home, you could be doing them now" (since "could have been doing" would refer to something in the past compared to the moment of the statement). – Tsundoku – 2017-01-18T16:01:01.473

Then, Is If you did not do them at home, you could be doing them now like the other students. also correct? – Marah – 2017-01-18T16:12:27.847

@Marah "If you did not do them at home" is not an irrealis but describes an action in the past, so I would write, "If you did not do them at home, you can do them now." – Tsundoku – 2017-01-18T16:18:19.770

So the continuous is not applicable ... I see. I think I get it now. Thank you! :) – Marah – 2017-01-18T16:28:50.820