Student or Learner
Let' say a friend of yours is drowing, but I can't help him because I can't swim.
In that case, I think it's possible to say, "If I could swim I would help him".
If so, how should I say when I look back on this incident 20 years later as a past event?
"If I could have swum then, I would have helped him"?
Or "If I had been able to swim then, I would have helped him"?
Or some other ways?
Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 12-Jun-2012 at 12:31.
In my opinion, "If I had been able to swim then" suggests that you have learnt to swim since that event. If you couldn't swim then, and you still can't swim then I see no reason not to use "If I could swim, I would have helped him". I would be more likely, however, to say "I would have helped him but I can't swim!" (or, if you now can swim, "I would have helped him but I couldn't swim").
Note the spelling of "drowning". I think you originally wrote "drawing" as that appears in bhai's quote of your post, but then you've edited it to "drowing" which is still incorrect.