Results 1 to 6 of 6
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Tagalog
      • Home Country:
      • Philippines
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines

    • Join Date: May 2011
    • Posts: 73
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    What if + past form of the verb?

    Is it really rule for the ' What if ' to be followed by the past form of the verb?

    Example:

    What if I found him?

    Can't it be 'What if I find him' since I'm talking at the present moment?

    Thank you.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 20,227
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: What if + past form of the verb?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yura Reiri View Post
    Is it really rule for the ' What if ' to be followed by the past form of the verb?

    Example:

    What if I found him?

    Can't it be 'What if I find him' since I'm talking at the present moment?

    Thank you.
    No, it's not a rule. Yes, you can say, "What if I find him?".

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Tagalog
      • Home Country:
      • Philippines
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines

    • Join Date: May 2011
    • Posts: 73
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: What if + past form of the verb?

    Oh. Thank you. That question has bugged me for ages because every time I read something containing that 'What if', it's always followed by the past tense when I could've used the present tense since I don't think they meant it to be in the past.

    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 44,225
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: What if + past form of the verb?

    The fact that they're using the past tense does not necessarily mean they are referring to past time, though it can. If you use the present tense, you think there's a good chance of finding him and the past when you think it's unlikely.
    Last edited by Tdol; 11-Mar-2012 at 14:24.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 24,990
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: What if + past form of the verb?

    You will hear "What if I go there now?" and "What if I went there now?" and "What if I were to go there now?"

  3. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 20,227
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: What if + past form of the verb?

    I see the use of the past tense here as being more conditional than the present tense.

    "What if I found him? Would you be grateful?"
    "What if I find him? Will you be grateful?"

    Of course, this is a parallel structure to, "If I found him, would you be grateful," etc.

Similar Threads

  1. What's past form of modal verb "need"?
    By enthink in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-Apr-2011, 22:07
  2. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 28-Aug-2010, 18:59
  3. Gerund- (past form / present form)
    By Gray in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-Sep-2009, 16:05
  4. [Grammar] Present tense form, the past tense form and the past participle
    By foggyfield in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 25-Aug-2009, 05:13
  5. To be + verb+ing/verb3 or Being + past form of the verb
    By Volcano1985 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 11-Sep-2008, 20:09

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •