Post by Peter Young Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
1) He confessed because the evidence against him was overwhelming.
If he could, he wouldn't have confessed.
Is the second sentence grammatical? Is it idiomatic?
Yes and yes.
It doesn't work for me, because the beginning of the second sentence
sounds as if it means "If he could confess", which creates a contradiction.
I'd rephrase it. The replacement that comes to mind is "If he had had
his druthers", but of course that's highly colloquial. Perhaps it's
better to drop the "if", and say "He would have preferred not to confess".
Peter Moylan http://www.pmoylan.org
Newcastle, NSW, Australia