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Past Unreal (Untrue) Conditionals


past perfect tense would + have + past participle
could + have + past participle
if-clause: past perfect
result clause: modal +have +past participle
If it had rained yesterday,
(It did  not rain yesterday.)

If I hadn't known his address,
(I knew his address.)

I would have needed an umbrella.
(I did not need an umbrella.)

I couldn't have sent an invitation.
(I sent an invitation.)

<-Past Untrue Conditionals are used to talk about situations in the past that were not true.

They are used when you want to fantasize about something, or speculate on a situation that didn't happen.

If Jason hadn't been here,
(He was here.)

If I had been you,
(I was not you.)

he couldn't have helped us.
(He helped us.)

I would have called him.
(you did not call him.)

In Past Untrue Conditionals, the "to be" verb is always "had been" in the if-clause, for all subjects: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they.
If I had had $500,
I could have bought some new clothes, or I could have taken a short trip. When "could" is used in the result clause, it expresses a possibility. 
If Cindy had owned a car,
she would have driven to school. When "would have ___" is used in the result clause, it expresses a certainty. For sure you would have done that.

Marsha:   A) "I bought a car last week. It's a Ford."
Greg:      B) "If I had bought a car, I would have bought a Porsche."

(how the word looks)
(how the word works)
A) bought past tense verb expresses 
past tense
In sentence (A), "bought" looks like a past tense verb, and it works like a past tense verb. Marsha now has a car because she bought one.
B) had bought past perfect expresses 
a past untrue
In sentence (B), "had bought" looks like past perfect, BUT it is expressing a past situation that is not real. Greg did not buy a car. He is talking about his fantasy car.

Now it's Your Turn - Choose one of the exercises below:
If-Then Clauses 5 - practice the if-clause
If-Then Clauses 6 - practice the result-clause

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