If you read the last blog abt baking cakes and saw the video the grammar purists among us may well have thrown their hands up in horror at the “conditionals”. I also reacted badly when I first started noticing this simple past use in what is effectively a third conditional, because “It isn’t the way I use it so it has to be wrong, right?” Well, no, actually, if we’re being descriptive rather than prescriptive the answer is “No.” There is a large segment of the English speaking world that uses the simple past in this way, so this has to be respected.
I also reacted badly when I first noticed the use of “would have” creeping in where I would use the simple past (We’re still in the realm of the third conditional.” One summer, in the UK, it was suddenly everywhere: on the TV, in the streets. ( It might have already arrived in the spring but living abroad means that I only tend to get back in the summer, and then I notice all kinds of novel usage.) I heard people saying things like: “If you would have told me I’d have known!” Again I would never use a conditional form where what I think I need is a subjunctive (or a past perfect doing the same job.) But this is only a matter of convention and if a large enough community wants to use the conditional to do the same job, well, who am I to protest?
It’s so easy to get fixed in our ways and think that of course we know best, but language, like so many things, is constantly in flux.
having said that I did think twice about using that particular video in class and in the end decided not to as it might have confused my poor students.