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    KLPNO is offline Senior Member
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    Default second conditional

    Hello everyone

    I'd like to ask why second conditional, not the third conditional, is used in the following passage:

    I told this fact to several other people who also were interested in
    investigating orbs. Some of them suggested that the orbs were being
    attracted to us because of our focus and interest in them. While I was
    ready to accept that explanation I also believed that there were more prosaic
    explanations that needed to be considered as well: If I opted only for
    the obvious and appealing explanation that the orbs were pleased with
    our attention, I could miss some vital piece of tangible physical evidence
    that might open the way to a much deeper understanding of the orbs and
    how they might fit in with what we knew. Ramtha had taught us what
    this phenomenon was; through my investigation, I could learn more of
    its detail and its implications for our own understanding of reality.

    The author is talking about past events and uses second conditional instead of third cnditional. What's the reason for this usage?

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: second conditional

    Quote Originally Posted by KLPNO View Post
    Hello everyone

    I'd like to ask why second conditional, not the third conditional, is used in the following passage:

    I told this fact to several other people who also were interested in
    investigating orbs. Some of them suggested that the orbs were being
    attracted to us because of our focus and interest in them. While I was
    ready to accept that explanation I also believed that there were more prosaic
    explanations that needed to be considered as well: If I opted only for
    the obvious and appealing explanation that the orbs were pleased with
    our attention, I could miss some vital piece of tangible physical evidence
    that might open the way to a much deeper understanding of the orbs and
    how they might fit in with what we knew. Ramtha had taught us what
    this phenomenon was; through my investigation, I could learn more of
    its detail and its implications for our own understanding of reality.

    The author is talking about past events and uses second conditional instead of third cnditional. What's the reason for this usage?
    That's true, he could have written "If I'd opted ... I could have missed..."
    He is describing his thoughts, and apparently decided to express it this way to give an air of immediacy or intimacy to his thought processes, instead of sticking to the narrative.
    For example, in a past narrative you might read this:
    I was standing around doing nothing when I thought to myself: why am I standing around doing nothing?

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