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    #1

    if he had wanted

    1) He was walking around town, feeling happy that he had his whole afternoon in front of him. He could go home to his wife if he wanted, or to the park. He decided to go to the library.

    2) He was walking around town, feeling happy that he had his whole afternoon in front of him. He could have gone home to his
    wife if he had wanted, or to the park. He decided to go to the library.


    Do the above passages mean the same?
    Last edited by navi tasan; 29-Jul-2016 at 06:44.

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: if he had wanted

    No, they don't mean the same thing. Do you know why?

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: if he had wanted

    A week has passed, and the OP has not responded. May I say something now?

    'Could go' and 'wanted' refer to the time when he was walking, while 'could have gone' and 'had wanted' refer to the time before he was walking.

    Am I right or wrong?
    I am not a teacher.

  3. rock-onn's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: if he had wanted

    I am not a teacher.

    'could go' means here that it is possible for him to go now but not referring to past.

    'could have gone' means here that it was possible to go there in the (immediate) past but does not refer to present or future.

  4. Roman55's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: if he had wanted

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    A week has passed, and the OP has not responded. May I say something now?

    'Could go' and 'wanted' refer to the time when he was walking, while 'could have gone' and 'had wanted' refer to the time before he was walking.

    Am I right or wrong?

    I think you're right.

    As a narrative, 1) is natural. The reader doesn't know, until the third sentence, that he neither went home nor went to the park.

    In 2) as soon as we encounter, 'He could have gone home…' we know that he didn't. It also reads, as Matthew points out, as if these possibilities occurred to him before he started walking around town, and he'd already dismissed them in favour of going to the library.
    I am not a teacher

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: if he had wanted

    Quote Originally Posted by rock-onn View Post
    'could go' means here that it is possible for him to go now but not referring to past.
    All sentences in 1 and 2 refer to the past.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: if he had wanted

    There isn't much left to say, but I think it is important to note that there is a big difference between "could go" and "could have gone". If you could do something it is a possibility, but if you could have done something it was a possibility but is no longer one.

  7. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: if he had wanted

    1. He was walking around town. He could buy something if he wanted.
    2. He was walking around town. He could have bought something if he had wanted.

    We don't know whether he bought something in 1 but know that he did not buy something in 2.

    Could that be another difference between 'could + infinitive' and 'could + perfect'?
    I am not a teacher.

  8. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: if he had wanted

    I think that is the same difference I pointed out in post seven but putting it in grammatical terms.

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