Just wondering if actual instrument time can be added with simulated instrument time for the requirements of the Private Pilot minimums (3 hour instrument). I have actual instrument time from when my CFI showed me what it was like to fly in clouds. (USA)
Provided your CFI and you were flying on a filed and ATC cleared IFR flight plan at the time of the real instrument time was acquired, then yes, you can use that instrument time toward your PPL Aeronautical Experience requirements. It does not necessarily need to be done under the hood. 61.109(a)(3) just requires the applicant log 3 hours of dual instruction time flying solely on reference to the instruments, whether simulated or real IMC conditions.
The downside here is that unless you did the dual instrument time with a CFII, you cannot use that time toward an instrument rating or advanced pilot or flight instructor certificates per 61.109.
The requirements for a private certificate are stated in 14 CFR 61.109(a)(3) as “flight training ... instrument flight”.
In 14 CFR 61.1, Instrument training is defined as:
Instrument training means that time in which instrument training is received from an authorized instructor under actual or simulated instrument conditions.