What is the difference between these two

"We would get bashed if we did that" and "We will get bashed if we do that"


  • The difference lies in what the speaker is thinking about.

    • If you're thinking about a real possibility of 'doing that', then use and PRESENT will and PRESENT do.
    • If you're thinking about 'doing that' as an idea, but not a plan, then use PAST would and PAST did.

    One clear case is when you actually plan NOT to 'do that'. For example

    We can't, we mustn't, we won't do so-and-so. We'd get bashed if we did that.

    Only PAST is possible because you've already said that it's not a real possibility.

    An even clearer case is when 'doing that' isn't even a possibility.

    We've never done so-and-so, and we aren't doing so-and-so now. We'd get bashed if we did that

    You can't use PRESENT because it's an impossible condition.

    Grammar books use the terms remote condition and unreal condition for the PAST sentences, and real condition for the PRESENT sentences.

  • Thanks David!

  • But what if i want to say that "we did it in the past"

  • Let's make a distinction between PAST TENSE and PAST TIME.
    Let's also make a distinction between the REAL WORLD and an IMAGINED WORLD.

    In these conditional sentences

    • PRESENT TENSE is used for FUTURE TIME (or sometimes PRESENT TIME) in the REAL WORLD
      We'll get bashed if we do that.

      We'd get bashed if we did that.

    I find it useful to think of PRESENT TIME as NOW and PAST TIME as THEN.
    But THEN can also mean in that imagined world.

    In English, if we speak of the PAST TIME

    • we can place things at a definite time THEN using the PAST SIMPLE
      We did that last week

    • we can place things in the period UP TO NOW using the PRESENT PERFECT( with no sense of a definite THEN)
      We've done that today

    • we can place things in the period UP TO THEN using the PAST PERFECT
      We'd already done that

    • we can place things at a definite time BEFORE THEN also using the PAST PERFECT
      We'd done that the previous day

    This last sentence speaks of BEFORE THEN when THEN=PAST TIME.
    But we may want to speak of before BEFORE THEN when THEN=IN AN IMAGINED WORLD.
    That's what we do with an unreal condition in PAST TIME — using the PAST PERFECT
    We would have got bashed if we'd done that

    It's almost like an equation


    In this sort of discussion, it's useful to think of will not as a FUTURE TENSE but
    will do that — PRESENT
    would do that — PAST
    will have done that — PRESENT PERFECT
    would have done that — PAST PERFECT

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