Is it really rule for the ' What if ' to be followed by the past form of the verb?
What if I found him?
Can't it be 'What if I find him' since I'm talking at the present moment?
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.
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 13:24.
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?"
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.