A variation of conditionals?


I have found these sentences, "If I were you, I would have enjoyed my vacation.", "If I were you, I would have explained what happened." So I think the structure of "If I were...., I would have p.p..." is also possible. Do you agree with the grammar? I really hope to hear from you again. Thank you so much as usual.

asked Oct 09 '12 at 10:17 Hans Contributor

2 answers


HsKyH7, neither of these two sentences is correct. 


"If I were . . ." expresses an imagined present, "if I had been . . .", an imagined past.


Here are your options:


If I were you, I would explain what happened.

If I had been you, I would have explained what happened.

link answered Oct 09 '12 at 12:34 Peter Guess Expert

I'm sorry, Peter, but my dictionary states that Were is the past subjunctive of Be. Does that not mean that "If I were you" expresses an imagined past?

mysticeteOct 09 '12 at 13:52

I'll stick with what I said above: ' "If I were . . ." expresses an imagined present . . .'

Peter GuessOct 09 '12 at 15:25

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Yes. In these cases "were" is a subjunctive form (indicating an imaginary or unreal state) of the word "be."  Also possible is "If she/he/it were here, then..." or "I wish she/he/it were..."


Ordinarily, the first person singular past tense form of the word "be" is "was." As in, "I was just leaving." 

link answered Oct 09 '12 at 10:32 mysticete Contributor

Thank you and my question is whether S + were / was...., S' + would / could, etc have p.p...is even acceptable nowadays. Many people say it is not right but we can see and find some examples written like that. What do you think?

HansOct 09 '12 at 10:36

It is difficult to understand your meaning when you use p.p. -- do you mean present participle, past participle, present perfect, or past perfect?

Jeff PribylOct 09 '12 at 14:40

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