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    #1

    Conditional sentences for the past

    'I think he will show good results if the conditions are auspicious.'
    'I think he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.'

    Can the above two sentences be 'adjusted' to the past?

    'I thought he would show good results if the conditions were (?) auspicious.'
    'I thought he ? '

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Conditional sentences for the past

    I think he would have... if ... had been...

    But they weren't, so he didn't.

    (And it's possible that even if they were, he still wouldn't have.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Conditional sentences for the past

    Thak you for your reply.

    Posting the question I meant a situation when the speaker describes past events - 'I knew he would...', 'I felt he could...', etc.
    Probably, 'I thought he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.' looks correct, but as for its 'unreal' match, I do not see any way to construct the corresponding sentence. Maybe in English such sentences are not used?

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Conditional sentences for the past

    I think you may be referring to the problem of backshifting in reported speech.

    'I think he will show good results if the conditions are auspicious.'
    This is reported as: (1) I thought he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.

    'I think he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.'
    We cannot backshift here, so this can be reported only as :(2) I thought he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.

    The two reported versions are identical in appearance, and we have lost the distinction made in the original utterances. The only way round this is a rewrite - something like:

    (1). I thought it possible that he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.
    (2) I thought it just about/hypothetically possible that
    he would show good results if the conditions were auspicious.

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