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    #1

    Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war this would have been one of the worst wars in terms of casualties.

    Is the above usage of the pair 'was - would have been' correct? I came across native speakers using this pair while speaking. They said using 'had been - would have been' pair makes the sentence complicated and it's unnecessary for colloquial purposes'.
    Last edited by MeyaN; 05-May-2017 at 11:55.
    P.S. Please correct any errors above.

  2. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    I'd use 'if this had been a war, it would have been one of the worst in terms of casualties'.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

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    #3

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    I edited my question to make it more clear. Please read it again. Thank you.
    P.S. Please correct any errors above.

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    #4

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    Mixed conditionals are not uncommon in English. However, please take note of the sentence suggested by bhaisahab in post #2, especially how "it" (not "this") is used in the second part.

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    #5

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    Quote Originally Posted by MeyaN View Post
    I edited my question to make it more clear. Please read it again. Thank you.
    Please don't edit posts after they have received responses. It can make the responses almost nonsensical sometimes.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    I'd use the subjunctive: If this were a war it would have been one of the worst in terms of casualties.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I'd use the subjunctive
    So would I, but many speakers of BrE would not, these days.

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    #8

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    "I'd use the subjunctive: If this were a war it would have been one of the worst in terms of casualties."
    Do you prefer this to 'had been - would have been' pair? Both colloquially as well as for write-ups to make it easy to the ears and eyes of the listener and reader respectively?
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 06-May-2017 at 08:00. Reason: Added quote box
    P.S. Please correct any errors above.

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    #9

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    Quote Originally Posted by MeyaN View Post
    Do you prefer this to 'had been - would have been' pair? Both colloquially as well as for write-ups to make it easy to the ears and eyes of the listener and reader respectively?
    I think the subjunctive and the past perfect are equally acceptable in formal and colloquial American English. "If it were" uses one word less than "if it had been", so it wins for brevity.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: Sixty thousand students killed themselves last year. If this was a war...

    I would point out that the sentence does not actually make complete sense as written, though it's obvious what the speaker means. She's talking about the figure of 60,000.

    If this [figure of 60,000 represented the death toll of what had been a hypothetical war], it would have been one of the worst wars...

    With the thought expanded like this, you can see more clearly the mix of conditionals.

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