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    #1

    I have a question about the conditional

    I have written the following sentence,

    He hardly understood what was going on and before he even managed to say anything they had disposed of him as if he were a bag of rubbish.


    Now I am not sure if it should be "as if he were a bag or rubbish" or "as if he had been a bag of rubbish?"

  1. Leandro-Z's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I have a question about the conditional

    It`s not a conditional. Not because you have "if" it is a conditional. "As if", in this case, needs to be followed by the past simple of the verb "to be".

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    #3

    Re: I have a question about the conditional

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    I have written the following sentence,

    He hardly understood what was going on and before he even managed to say anything they had disposed of him as if he were a bag of rubbish.


    Now I am not sure if it should be "as if he were a bag or rubbish" or "as if he had been a bag of rubbish?"
    No, you don't need the past perfect here. You've already used it in "They had disposed". So, you've already backshifted to the time of disposal. And at the time of disposal, they disposed of him "as if he were a bag of rubbish", not "as if he had been."

    Here's another example:
    "Yesterday I was sick, because I had eaten an apple that I picked up from the ground." Here, you don't need the past perfect twice if you picked up the apple and ate it at around the same time.

    Here's how you could use it in the last clause:
    "On Wednesday I was sick, because I ate an apple that I had picked up from the ground on Sunday." (This tends to imply that you ate the apple on Wednesday)
    "On Wednesday I was sick, because I had eaten an apple that I had picked up from the ground on Sunday."
    In this version, it's uncertain when you ate the apple. It could have been on Monday or Tuesday.

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    #4

    Re: I have a question about the conditional

    Where third conditionals produce logical absurdities, we often don't change the tense, so we say If I were you, I wouldn't have done that because If I had been you suggests that I could be you, and this one suggests that I could be a bag of rubbish at some point.

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