Sentence: If it had been winter, I would have done it

Can any one advise on this:
It is actually Summer. I wanted to tell that, if it is winter I may did something. This is the context and my words are given below:

“If it is winter, I would have done it” - is it correct (Imaginary past).
“If it WAS winter, I would have done it” - is it correct (Imaginary past).
“If it had been winter, I would have done it” - is it correct (Imaginary past).

This is correct:

“If it had been winter, I would have done it” - is it correct (Imaginary past).

Why not “If it was winter”?

I was about to ask the same question. I somehow feel that “If it was winter” would be a more common usage.


It really depends on the extent of the remoteness from actuality that you want to express. If you look at the three alternatives - possible - probable and impossible, so you choose the one you want. If it is … I’ll (will shall) do when there is a possibility, if it was … I’d (would should) do when there is a probability and if there is no likelihood or it is impossible you choose if it had been … I’d (would should) have done.


I would say:

If it WERE winter, I would have done it.

The If clause is in “Present Unreal” form because it IS NOT winter. The main clause is in Past Unreal because he DIDN’T DO it.

But I think the doubt , created by Mr M, is about “if it was”, Alan. What’s you take on that?

And yet, in spoken English at least, many people do “prefer” was over were in such contexts.

If I were a bird, I would fly.
If she were an actress, she would live in Beverly Hills.

I don’t think would have is commonly used in an If … were construction.

If I had passed the entrance test, I would have joined ABC college.
If it had been a successful journey, they would have returned home safely.

In the above case, winter is a period of time, as opposed to just a point in time, and I thought was is usually in such cases.

The original poster is looking for the imaginary past.

It’s called “Mixed Conditional” and I think it’s fairly common.

And why can’t “if it was” be used for that?

Using ‘If it was winter’ can be used to present a possible or probable real situation in the past. For example:

If, as you say, it was in fact winter at the time, then I probably did that. I simply can’t remember doing it.



Is this the exact reason why in formal written English, people tend to use “If it were…” structure to describe Present Unreal and to avoid ambiguity?

Hi Atomos

“If it were winter” would not generally be used to refer to the past.

Hi, I know it’s quite late to answer your question as it was posted three monts ago, but I’m going to answer it anyway. First, I guess you want to describe the possible success of doing something in the past (you don’t know whether you have succeeded, but you assume you have because something is going on now). Then it’s: “I may have done it if it’s winter now” or “If it’s winter now, I may have done it”.
I hope that’s what you had on your mind.