Translation:If it were better, I would have read the magazine.
That's more a question about English, but I feel like those sentences are a bit jarring because of the different tenses used. Wouldn't :
if it were better, I would read the magazine ; and
if it had been better, I would have read the magazine;
be better? Or is the structure showed in the exercise also often used?
the two possible translations are:
if it was better, I would have read the magazine (mixed second/third conditional, where the if clause is in the simple past tense, and the main clause -what's after the comma- is in the conditional perfect -that is, would + have + past participle-)
if it were better, I would have read the magazine (same as before, but the difference is that in the if-clause we have a subjunctive, which makes the whole utterance much more formal - an perhaps a bit outdated or stuck-up)
The ones you propose are not wrong per se (being the first example a conditional type 2 and the second, type 3), but they do not convey the meaning the Dutch version is carrying. That's why we need to use a mixed conditional here. With this structure we are referring to something hypothetical and unreal in the present (even though the tense used is the Simple Past, the time we are referring to is the present) and it's effect.
Check the following links for further information: http://www.businessenglishresources.com/31-2/student-section/student-handouts/forming-conditionals-english-student-guide/ http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/grammar/learnit/learnitv344.shtml http://www.englishpage.com/conditional/mixedconditional.html http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/conditional/
The first translation ('If it was better') in incorrect. It has to be 'If it were better'. The 'present contrary to fact' demands the subjunctive. Just because many ignore this doesn't make it correct. (See what ehollander wrote below.)
i agree with you, but I guess in a way it depends on the register (informal/formal), because some ppl might perceive you as a bit stuck up if you start using the subjunctive (even though grammatically that is the proper way to say it)
In my opinion, "were" instead of "was" in the sentence is not outdated or stuck-up - If anything, my uncertainty regarding the theoretical contrast between conditional and subjunctive in the English translation of the exercise sentence is that though the conditional would be presumably valid in my non-expert amateur grammarian's opinion, the hypercorrection-urge of passably well-educated English speakers would favor an almost complete replacement of real conditional "was" with subjunctive/unreal conditional "were".
However, from a sociolinguistic point of view, this seems like it would actually be a really interesting topic to research and further discuss on.
Thank y'all for this thought provoking discussion.
and here is an interesting video of a lecture which is somewhat related to the aforementioned topic.
I agree with you, you have a point there. But at the same time, it is true that some people (I'm not referring to myself though) would give you weird looks when using the subjunctive in colloquial, everyday speech. As I said, I guess it depends on the register and the language context.
is it just me or should this lesson be a bit lower in the lesson plan (in that it's more advanced)