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Old September 01, 2022, 11:49 PM
elchocoano elchocoano is offline
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Question on a conditional construction

Today I read this headline in elcolombiano.com

"Doce quebradas causarían tragedias en Medellín si no se atienden."

Can anyone comment on the grammatical correctness of this construction? It seems to violate my basic understanding of the rules for forming conditional constructions.

My basic understanding is that in Spanish
- a present protasis would go with a future apodosis
or
- a past subjunctive protasis would go with a conditional apodosis

But here we have a present protasis going with a conditional apodosis.

Is this usage acceptable? Am I missing something like a nuance of meaning?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old September 02, 2022, 02:14 PM
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Old September 05, 2022, 03:48 PM
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AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
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Of course, in class we learn: "Si no se atienden, las quebradas causarán tragedias", or "si no se atendieran, causarían tragedias".
But here, what is important is the attitude of the speaker about the probability of things to happen. It's not exactly a mistake; it's common usage in newspapers.

In this case, they're not saying "causarán tragedias", because they don't have the certainty that these catastrophes will fatally happen, so using the conditional expresses the possibility that these ravines could collapse or flood and take the people in Medellin with them.
At the same time, using "si no se atendieran" would express an important doubt on the capabilities or will of the government to act and prevent such disasters.
So there is method in the madness.
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Old September 05, 2022, 05:07 PM
elchocoano elchocoano is offline
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Thanks so much for the perfect answer! This is what I suspected.

Could we transform the sentence to the following so as to preserve the meaning but at the same time avoid violating the present protasis going with future apodosis rule?

Habrá riesgo de tragedias si no se atienden doce quebradas.
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Old September 06, 2022, 05:31 PM
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Your sentence is great, and since the risk is already there, because the authorities haven't intervened yet, you may even say: "Hay riesgo de tragedias si no se atienden doce quebradas".
Still, both "habrá" and "hay" may be read as an assertion that there is negligence from the part of the people charged with the safety of the region. Diplomacy first.
If you want to keep both strict grammar and diplomacy, you may say: "Puede haber riesgo de tragedias, si no se atienden doce quebradas". There, the problem for newspapers is that long sentences must be avoided.
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