Real past condition - past consequence conditional

From Teflpedia

A real past time-past consequence conditional is a rare conditional structure used in English.


Meaning[edit | edit source]

For example, let’s say there was a football match played earlier today as the final of a cup competition between the blues and the reds. Either team could have won; and indeed one team will have won. However, you lack knowledge of the event in question; you don't know the result. In that case, you can say something like:


If the blues have won, they will have received the trophy after the match.


Form[edit | edit source]

This is a real conditional, so uses the present tense. To express past time, the perfect aspect is used, as using the past tense would indicate irrealis (unreality). In reported speech, it can be backshifted into the past tense without changing its meaning.

Note this form is similar to the third conditional but uses the present perfect rather than the past perfect.

Pedagogy[edit | edit source]

This conditional structure is extremely rare and not one of the standard pedagogical conditionals. It’s probably only teachable at advanced levels, although it could come up before then.


CCQs[edit | edit source]

  • Is the condition in past time/present time/future time? (Past time)
  • Do we have information on the state of the condition? (No)
  • Is the consequence in past time/present time/future time? (Past time)


NB[edit | edit source]

NB: If we bring the consequence into the present time or future time, the consequential clause resembles a first conditional:

If the blues have won, they will bring the trophy back with them today/tomorrow.