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  1. #1
    kr1s is offline Newbie
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    Default Future in the past?

    Hi!

    I was asked which one of these sentences is correct:

    1. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he ever had to overcome in his life

    2. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he would've ever had to overcome in his life

    and I replied they are both wrong.

    I think it depends on the obstacle and whether it has been overcome or not in the moment of the past we are talking about.

    If the obstacle has been overcome, the sentence should be:
    A. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he had ever had to overcome in his life.

    If the obstacle hasn't been overcome (not yet),
    B. It would be one of the hardest obstacles he would ever have to overcome in his life.

    I think the latest sentence is a future in the past, but I'm not sure if it is correct to change the tense in the first part (would be).

    Could anyone correct and explain if and/or where I'm wrong, please?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Fitzwilliam_Darcy is offline Just Joined
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    Default Re: Future in the past?

    Not a Teacher.

    I believe the second one is correct.

    Both sentences are told in past tense, and both say that he didn't have to overcome the obstacle. The very start: "It would have been..." tells us this.

    However if he did have to overcome the obstacle, it would have been one of the hardest obstacles.

    The word 'would' in this case makes overcoming the obstacle seem hypothetical and that he didn't have to do it.

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Future in the past?

    If the obstacle was overcome, then the natural form for me would be It was one of the hardest obstacles.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Future in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by kr1s View Post
    Hi!

    I was asked which one of these sentences is correct:

    1. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he ever had to overcome in his life

    2. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he would've ever had to overcome in his life

    and I replied they are both wrong.

    I think it depends on the obstacle and whether it has been overcome or not in the moment of the past we are talking about.

    If the obstacle has been overcome, the sentence should be:
    A. It would have been one of the hardest obstacles he had ever had to overcome in his life.

    If the obstacle hasn't been overcome (not yet),
    B. It would be one of the hardest obstacles he would ever have to overcome in his life.

    I think the latest sentence is a future in the past, but I'm not sure if it is correct to change the tense in the first part (would be).

    Could anyone correct and explain if and/or where I'm wrong, please?
    Thanks in advance.
    I think Tdol is implicitly saying that all of your other conjectures are correct. If so, I agree.

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