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  1. #1
    thuyen is offline Newbie
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    Default Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    Dear teachers,

    Please tell me if there is a difference between A1 and A2?

    A1 Were it not for the mistake, he would have won more comfortably.
    A2 Had it not been for the mistake, he would have won more comfortably.

    If there is, then please explain why there is no difference between the following? What makes the exception, and which case is the exception, A or B?

    B1 Without/ But for/ If not for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

    B2 If it were not for/ Were it not for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

    B3 If it hadn't been for/ Had it not been for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.


    Your anwsers would be very much appreciated.

    Last edited by thuyen; 12-Jun-2013 at 03:10.

  2. #2
    EnglishFix is offline Member
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    There is no difference in meaning that I know of. I wish I could explain why but I can't. Sorry.

  3. #3
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    I don't find A1 to be very natural. I would say "If it hadn't been for the mistake..."

  4. #4
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    Quote Originally Posted by thuyen View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Please tell me if there is a difference between A1 and A2?

    A1 Were it not for the mistake, he would have won more comfortably.
    A2 Had it not been for, he would have won more comfortably.

    If there is, then please explain why there is no difference between the following? What makes the exception, and which case is the exception, A or B?

    B1 Without/ But for/ If not for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

    B2 If it were not for/ Were it not for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.

    B3 If it hadn't been for/ Had it not been for him, I wouldn't be where I am today.


    Your anwsers would be very much appreciated.

    Except for the missing words (the mistake) in A2, they are all correct and understandable. In each case, the beginning sets up a situation that is contrary to fact, and then the following clause is a conditional result.

  5. #5
    thuyen is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Except for the missing words (the mistake) in A2, they are all correct and understandable. In each case, the beginning sets up a situation that is contrary to fact, and then the following clause is a conditional result.
    Thank you all for the answers and the correction.

    From what you say, does it mean that A1 is less common than A2, but still acceptable in good English?

  6. #6
    hetzer is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    I'm not a native speaker.
    I teach the phrase "were it not for -" is used with the meaning of the present tense. In my understanding, "Were it not for the mistake, he would win -." is correct. On the other hand, "Had it not been for -" is used with the meaning of the past tense. "Had it no been for the mistake, he would have won -." is correct.
    Without and But for don't refer to tense, so they are used in any
    Of course, B3 is OK when you like to mean he was there so I am in my position now.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Were it not for vs Had it not been for vs ...

    Quote Originally Posted by hetzer View Post
    I'm not a native speaker.
    I teach the phrase "were it not for -" is used with the meaning of the present tense. In my understanding, "Were it not for the mistake, he would win -." is correct. On the other hand, "Had it not been for -" is used with the meaning of the past tense. "Had it no been for the mistake, he would have won -." is correct.
    Without and But for don't refer to tense, so they are used in any
    Of course, B3 is OK when you like to mean he was there so I am in my position now.
    There is some merit in that system.
    "Were it not for" or "If it were not for" is past tense, preceding the present tense "he would win".
    "Had it not been" is actually past perfect tense, and is followed by the more recent event in the past tense "we would have won".
    (I think the above is correct)

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