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The right tense of verb when using "If"


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The correct use of "if" all depends on the situation. Both examples you gave are correct in different contexts. Explaining each situation would be very long winded, but here's a link I found that explains it very well: http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/conditional/

I hope it's helpful, and good luck with your studies.

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In English we have four ways to make conditional (if) sentences.


0 Conditional – is used for scientific facts or general truths. ‘If’ can be substituted for ‘when’.

 ‘If you boil water to 100°C, it boils.’

‘When you boil water to 100°C, it boils.’

1st Conditional – is used with ‘will/can + base verb’ for a probable future result.

 ‘If you study hard, your English will improve.’

'If I get enough sleep, I will feel better.’

2nd Conditional – uses the ‘simple past’ with ‘modal + base verb’ for imagined, impossible or unreal future situations.

 ‘If I won the lottery, I would buy a plane.’

'If you met Johnny Depp, what would you ask him?’

3rd Conditional – uses the ‘past perfect’ with ‘modal + have + past participle’. It is usually used to express a past regret about something which did not happen in the past.

 ‘If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a plane.’

‘If I had been taller, I could have played in the NBA.’

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"If I tell you to shut up, keep your mouth locked".
"If I told you to shut up, you should lock your mouth".

I don't know how to explain it, I just say what I feel is correct.
But I think JasleenKaur nailed it out accurately already.

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