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  5. "Hvis jeg var sulten, ville j…

"Hvis jeg var sulten, ville jeg ha spist noe."

Translation:If I were hungry, I would have eaten something.

November 4, 2015



Shouldn't this be either "If I had been hungry, I would have eaten something" or "If I were hungry, I would eat something"?


I agree. The sentence in this form doesn't make sense as the if-clause refers to present while the independent clause refers to a past event. There are mixed conditionals, but this is not the case.


I can't get the grip of this, especially because my example sentence above (from Wikipedia): "If we were soldiers, we wouldn't have done it like that." I would translate to Hvis vi var soldater, ville vi ikke ha gjort det på den måten. Which to me is identical to the Duolingo example...


Conditionals can be confusing but there is a simple formula. You should always think about the situation in reality. If the reality is in present time, the conditional is in Past Tense; if the reality is already in the past the conditional is in the Past perfect. Your example: If we were soldiers (reality: but we ARE not - Present) we wouldn't have don't it (reality: but they DID-Past) - this is mixed conditional because in reality one of the clauses is still valid in the present while the other one is already in the past.

Duolingo example: If I were hungry (reality: * I am not hungry*??) I would have eaten something (reality: I didn't eat anything). This sentence makes no sense as you are combining present and past for one event that took place in the past. Correct: If I had been hungry (reality: I wasn't hungry - Past) I would have eaten something ( reality : I didn't eat - Past).

Also, another way of interpreting this sentence (as ryan pointed out) is if you think the reality is in the present. I I were hungry (reality: I AM not - Present) I would eat ( reality: I don't want to - Present).

Hope I didn't make it too complicating because in reality it's very simple :-)


I had my boyfriend read over this to try to explain it to me. And after some arguing he suggests that it is my attempt at a context that refers to the past that messes this up.

His dialect is much closer to bokmål, and he would never say hvis jeg var sulten... (past tense) if it was like in my example context where the situation is in the past, he would say hvis jeg hadde vært sulten... (past perfect tense).

But if the context is in the reality present, he is sitting at the table and his mother is nagging him to eat something, then his reply could be hvis jeg var sulten.... If I were hungry (but I'm not PRESENT), I would have eaten something (but I didn't PAST). Putting the condition clause in past tense and the consequence/main clause in conditional perfect tense.

Am I closer to understanding this then or am I still trying to bend things to fit my view?


Your boyfriend is right. :-) You're putting a clearly past event into present for no reason. In the if-clause of a mixed conditional, the event that is still valid in present is something PERMANENT (it was valid in both past and now present) which encompasses one particular TEMPORARY event that happened in the past and is finished - If I were a soldier (permanent - I am not - I wasn't a soldier in the past and I am not that in the present) I wouldn't have done it (temporary one event that happened and finished). Other example: If you were taller (permanent: I am not) I would have been able to reach that branch (one temporary event in the past).

So to go back to your question and your sentence, the only way your sentence "If I were hungry I would have eaten." can be interpreted is if you see the reality of you not being hungry as a permanent thing (it was valid both in past and present). So unless the speaker has some sort of a medical condition of not feeling hunger the sentence is illogical. Hope this makes things more clear!


Scenario: you come home from a party and your mother is appalled you didn't have dinner before you went. But you weren't hungry at the time. "If I were hungry, I would have eaten something"


No, that would be, "If I had been hungry". "If I were hungry" refers to a present time frame. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_conditional_sentences


Reading this level of lingo doesn't come easy to me, but under Mixed conditional it says:

"When the consequence refers to the past, but the condition is not expressed as being limited to the past, the condition clause is expressed as in the second conditional (past, but not past perfect), while the main clause is in the conditional perfect as in the third conditional: If we were soldiers, we wouldn't have done it like that."

Doesn't that apply? (And I learned a new word reading all that! Just splendid:-))


It wouldn't apply in this case because you weren't hungry at the time, so the condition is limited to the past. A condition not limited to the past would be something like, "If I were always hungry".


I'm afraid this still doesn't make any sense, grammatically.


Well, looking back a discussion of two years ago, I, too find the translation structure not parallel. In English: If I were hungry, I would eat something. If I had been hungry, I would have eaten something.


I am singular, therefore in correct English the translation should read 'if I was hungry'. Admittedly 'If I were' is used colloquially.


"If I were" is subjunctive, and is perfectly correct as a conditional. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_subjunctive


If I were being nitpicky, wouldn't I say "Hvis jeg vare sulten?" I know the subjunctive is uncommon, but as a student I feel it's important to understand correct usage.


Interesting. I didn't even know it exists, being duolingo-taught. Although I also didn't encounter the subjunctive mood in any books I've read so far.

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