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    • Join Date: Aug 2005
    • Posts: 92

    complicated tense. verb structures

    hi, could you, please, explain to me the grammar and reasoning behind the sentences below?

    Im familiar with the 3rd conditional (or mixed conditionals) and phrases such as:
    - He could have helped her (= he didnt)
    - He must have done it etc
    I read a lot in English but I have never come across these phrases used in the way below,

    'Im am sorry, officer, I dont know how I could have missed the sign.'

    I dont know how I should understand that - if 'I could have missed the sign' (I could have done it)= I could have but in fact I did not THEN how come 'I dont know how I could have missed the sign.' implies that I did miss the sign???

    and here are the sentences that are much more complicated:

    Although Freddie perhaps didnt understand the finer details of accountancy and financial matters, he had a very clear knowledge of the overall picture.

    However, I very much doubt that he would have ever met his bank manager or that that person would have been the same bank manager whom Freedie would have had to have seen to get his first mortage.

    It was almost unthinkable that he could have been so relaxed and at ease with these comparative strangers but of course he had no secrets and nor could he have had a secrets from them.

    I hope someone will make this more digestible to me, thank you.

    • Member Info
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      • United States
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    • Join Date: Oct 2008
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    re: complicated tense. verb structures

    In the instance of the fellow missing the sign, he did. It was probably a stop sign, a big looming red octagon. "I don't know how I could have missed it!" But I did. Your interpretation is correct.

    The other sentences tell a story in a very convoluted way. Was this an intentional effort by a teacher to use odd tenses correctly to tell a story that could have been told so much easier, and clearer, in other ways?

    Try retelling it in shorter, clearer sentences. The verbal clutter is not necessary, serving, as you have noticed, only to complicate the message.

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