Discussion:
conditional/if he was there
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a***@gmail.com
2020-01-12 03:52:55 UTC
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1) If he was there, I'd have talked to him.

Is the sentence correct?

I have been taught to say:

2) If he had been there, I'd have talked to him.

But I think I hear things like '1'. Maybe it is correct in American English, but
not in British English?

Or maybe there is a difference in the meanings of '1' and '2'?

Gratefully,
Navi
Katy Jennison
2020-01-12 08:22:27 UTC
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Post by a***@gmail.com
1) If he was there, I'd have talked to him.
Is the sentence correct?
2) If he had been there, I'd have talked to him.
But I think I hear things like '1'. Maybe it is correct in American English, but
not in British English?
Or maybe there is a difference in the meanings of '1' and '2'?
The default presumption is that both parties in this exchange know that
he wasn't there, and 2 is strictly correct. But 1 is entirely
comprehensible, and people say technically-incorrect things all the time.

If it's not clear whether he was there or not, the speaker/writer is in
effect saying "I don't know if he was there, but if he was he'd have
been one of the people I talked to." Both your sentences could also be
taken to mean that too, depending on the context.

A context could also be contrived in which 1) was correct but 2) wasn't.

These are fine details of 'correctness'. Not one in a hundred people
would notice the difference.
--
Katy Jennison
a***@gmail.com
2020-01-12 10:55:54 UTC
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Post by Katy Jennison
Post by a***@gmail.com
1) If he was there, I'd have talked to him.
Is the sentence correct?
2) If he had been there, I'd have talked to him.
But I think I hear things like '1'. Maybe it is correct in American English, but
not in British English?
Or maybe there is a difference in the meanings of '1' and '2'?
The default presumption is that both parties in this exchange know that
he wasn't there, and 2 is strictly correct. But 1 is entirely
comprehensible, and people say technically-incorrect things all the time.
If it's not clear whether he was there or not, the speaker/writer is in
effect saying "I don't know if he was there, but if he was he'd have
been one of the people I talked to." Both your sentences could also be
taken to mean that too, depending on the context.
A context could also be contrived in which 1) was correct but 2) wasn't.
These are fine details of 'correctness'. Not one in a hundred people
would notice the difference.
--
Katy Jennison
Thank you very much, Katy,

That was an excellent explanation. I had not thought of that possibility. I
think in that case '1' is actually correct and '2' isn't.

I don't know if he was there or not. If he was there, I'd have talked to him
(if I had been there myself, but I wasn't).

The counterfactual part is my being there. I wasn't there. I don't think
one could use '2' in this case.

I might be wrong, obviously.

Gratefully,
Navi
b***@aol.com
2020-01-12 16:48:01 UTC
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Post by a***@gmail.com
Post by Katy Jennison
Post by a***@gmail.com
1) If he was there, I'd have talked to him.
Is the sentence correct?
2) If he had been there, I'd have talked to him.
But I think I hear things like '1'. Maybe it is correct in American English, but
not in British English?
Or maybe there is a difference in the meanings of '1' and '2'?
The default presumption is that both parties in this exchange know that
he wasn't there, and 2 is strictly correct. But 1 is entirely
comprehensible, and people say technically-incorrect things all the time.
If it's not clear whether he was there or not, the speaker/writer is in
effect saying "I don't know if he was there, but if he was he'd have
been one of the people I talked to." Both your sentences could also be
taken to mean that too, depending on the context.
A context could also be contrived in which 1) was correct but 2) wasn't.
These are fine details of 'correctness'. Not one in a hundred people
would notice the difference.
--
Katy Jennison
Thank you very much, Katy,
That was an excellent explanation. I had not thought of that possibility. I
think in that case '1' is actually correct and '2' isn't.
I don't know if he was there or not. If he was there, I'd have talked to him
(if I had been there myself, but I wasn't).
The counterfactual part is my being there. I wasn't there. I don't think
one could use '2' in this case.
I might be wrong, obviously.
2) would also be possible and imply neither person was there: "If he'd
been there, I'd have talked to him (if I'd been there too)", that is
"If we'd been there, I'd have talked to him".
Post by a***@gmail.com
Gratefully,
Navi
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