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    #1

    If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    The usual verb that can be used to refer to both past and present situations in the subjunctive mood for the protasis is be:

    1. If I were you, I would not do so now.
    2. If I were you, I would not have done it at that time.

    were
    can be replaced by had been, but there's no need.

    The following is the usual form of a counter-factual:

    If you had asked me, I would have told you.


    But usually the context will make things clear, and very often the apodosis is the result of, or the thing that happens/ed after the event described in, the protasis, so the order of events is known, just as in the first two example sentences we use the apodosis to determine the time of being you in the protasis; for the above sentence, had asked can be reduced to asked, without ambiguity.

    Here comes the question:

    If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.


    My opinion is, one option must not be replaced by the other, because it would fundamentally change the meaning: if had known is used, it's a counter-factual conditional, and the act of knowing the thing did not happen, the apodosis consequently being non-existent in the past; if knew is used, it means if he knew this now (=in fact, he doesn't, and, by inference, didn't), and that is using the present situation to infer what must have happened in the past, and in this case the status of being sad, which might have happened, did not come to pass. But I won't swear to it; what do teachers here think?

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Welcome to the forum, Joe.
    Quote Originally Posted by JoeC View Post
    The usual verb that can be used to refer to both past and present situations in the subjunctive mood for the protasis is be:

    1. If I were you, I would not do so now.
    2. If I were you, I would not have done it at that time.

    were
    can be replaced by had been, but there's no need.
    The following is the usual form of a counter-factual:

    If you had asked me, I would have told you.
    True, but you have changed the meaning.
    But usually the context will make things clear, and very often the apodosis is the result of, or the thing that happens/ed after the event described in, the protasis, so the order of events is known, just as in the first two example sentences we use the apodosis to determine the time of being you in the protasis; for the above sentence, had asked can be reduced to asked, without ambiguity.
    No it can't. Where did you get that idea?

    Here comes the question:

    If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.


    My opinion is, one option must not be replaced by the other,
    Correct. Only 'had known' is possible in a counterfactual conditional.

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    #3

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Thank you, 5jj.
    No it can't. Where did you get that idea?
    Jerry Fields has a book The Bad Boys Chronicles: Memoirs of the Making and Unmaking of an Ex-Bank Robber, in which is, as part of an account of his experience when he was nine or ten years old, a sentence:

    -The fact that my parents would have bought the toy for me if I asked them would have taken away the challenge.

    The conditional clause is obviously related to a past unreal situation, but he doesn't use had asked. Apart from this, sentences like 'if he did/didn't do sth, he would have + past participle' I have seen in books. Are they still considered incorrect?

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    #4

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    According to https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/l...instead-8.html#77, does the reply mean that in the conditional clause, only be and its simple past inflections are possible for past hypothetical situations?

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    #5

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoeC View Post
    Thank you, 5jj.


    Jerry Fields has a book The Bad Boys Chronicles: Memoirs of the Making and Unmaking of an Ex-Bank Robber, in which is, as part of an account of his experience when he was nine or ten years old, a sentence:

    -The fact that my parents would have bought the toy for me if I asked them would have taken away the challenge.

    The conditional clause is obviously related to a past unreal situation, but he doesn't use had asked. Apart from this, sentences like 'if he did/didn't do sth, he would have + past participle' I have seen in books. Are they still considered incorrect?
    Don't forget that when people write dialogue, or prose written in the first person, they don't always stick to "correct" grammar. If the man who wrote the book didn't grow up speaking perfectly grammatical English, when he wrote his book he would have written it in his own "voice", errors included.

    You are right that it "should" be: The fact that my parents would have bought the toy for me if I had asked them ...". I very much doubt that grammatical construction much bothered someone who considers himself a "bad boy" and who went on to become a bank robber.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Thank you, ems. According to your answer, to make a hypothetical statement about the past, we have to use if someone had done, not someone did, for the conditional clause.

    If If I were you, I would have done it is an exception, then can the following be regarded as so?

    -If deadline of the report for the boss wasn't/weren't last Monday, I would have been able to see you.

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    #7

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    No. "If the deadline for the report for my boss hadn't been last Monday, I would have been able to see you."
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Thank you, ems. According to Philo, if the conditional clause is a simple past form, with the main clause someone would have done something, it is inappropriate, because it would mean the opposite of that conditional clause prevails. (I am writing these based on memory only; if wrong, please point out the mistakes.)

    Now, say, Superman is misunderstood as having the intention of attacking Batman; Batman defeats Superman, tying him up. Then Superman says:

    -If I wanted, I would have.


    The full form is:

    -If I wanted to harm you, I would have done so.


    Since the intention of not harming Batman still obtains, it is correct to use wanted instead of had wanted. Am I correct?

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    #9

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    No.

    If I wanted to, I could.
    If I wanted to, I would.
    If I had wanted to, I would have.
    If I had wanted to, I could have.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #10

    Re: If he had known/knew this, he would have been very sad.

    Thank you, ems. Does your answer mean the following structures are definitely impossible in English?

    -If someone did/didn't do something, someone would/wouldn't have done something.


    -If someone was/were(n't) something/someone, someone would/wouldn't have done something.
    (with the famous exception of If I were you)

    -If I were he
    (or anyone else except you), I would(n't) have done something.

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