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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Hebrew
      • Home Country:
      • Israel
      • Current Location:
      • Israel

    • Join Date: Oct 2012
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Question regarding the usage of past tense in a rhetorical situation

    Dear Teachers,

    I have recently sent an email containing this sentence portion within it :
    In the case of X I would personally consider it a great miss if for some reason we weren't able to Y.

    Upon several readings of this email (but regrettably after I have sent it) it occurred to me that I may have made a mistake by using "weren't" which is the past tense of "were" - because I am describing an action that will occur in the future. However, then I realized that I am using a rhetorical case - "If blah blah"... So now I am at a loss because my intuition tells me I am wrong but the literary tool I used in my sentence could bend it back into the realm of the acceptable.

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you may provide.

    Cordially,

    Itamar

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,815
    #2

    Re: Question regarding the usage of past tense in a rhetorical situation

    Tense and time are not the same in English- we can use the past tense to talk about the future. There's not need to regret sending your email- the second conditional you're using can refer to the present of the future, and is correct here.

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