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It looks as though an agreement ---- yesterday between the two sides.

a) would reach

b) is reached

c) would be reached

d) had been reached

e) was reached

How many answers can be accepted as true in the sentence above and why? Comment is required. Thank you very much in advance.
Junior Member82
E of course, and D only if there were further context to explain to us why the previousness of the agreement needed to be stressed or clarified.
Veteran Member88,745
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This is the subjunctive about the past

After as if / as though we use Past Perfect when referring to a real or imaginary action in the past:

He talks about Rome as though he had been there himself. (but he hasn’t or probably he hasn’t or we don’t know whether he has or not)

The key to distinguish the different types of subjunctive is the verb tense of the subjunctive verb, and not the verb preceding "as if/as though"

The correct answer is D.

It looks as though an agreement had been reached yesterday between the two sides

(but there was no agreement or we don’t know whether there was an agreement or not)
Full Member330
I think you have the guideline turned about, Likeguslee. There is no subjunctive involved in this sentence. One of the uses of the be-subjunctive (were) is as an option in unreal or hypothetical situations with those conjunctions:

He talks as if/though he were in Rome (he is not; were-subjunctive)
He talks as if/though he had been in Rome (no subjunctive here at all-- just past perfect for conditional III)

It looks as though an agreement was reached between the two sides.
It looks as though an agreement has been reached between the two sides.
It looks as though an agreement had been reached between the two sides (when the war broke out).
It looks as though an agreement will be reached between the two sides.
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subjunctive case in "as if / as though clauses" still hangs in the air, even among native speakers. I am agonized by the authoritative grammarians who explain the subject through equivocal answers. They are somehow inclined to use a tentative interpretation that drives the reader into oscillation and dilemma.I'd rather get some native opinion than swim in the ocean of uncertainity and obscurity. The more often a structure is used, the more logical it sounds to me.
Full Member273
You sound suicidal, Kili-- don't take it so hard/hardly. If there was/were an easy answer, there would be no need for grammarians of any ilk.
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Thanks god you are here Micawber. What if you weren't / hadn't been here???Emotion: surprise
D is the correct answer given in the exercise book where this question was derived.

The question here is what attitude, state of mind or intent did the speaker want to convey? In the given sentence, if you think the speaker meant to express doubt about the success of the negotiation, then the correct tense to use would be the past perfect to indicate an unreal situation in the past.

The rules governing the construct of the past subjunctive were given in the following grammar books: A practical English Grammar A.J. THOMSON. A.V MARTINET Page : 250, and Martin HEWINGS Advanced grammar in Use page 170.

On the other hand, if you think that the speaker was relatively sure about the outcome, then the correct tense was just the simple past.

(Edited for type size. Large bold type looks aggressive, Likeguslee -- MM)
OK, Likeguslee, I can see that we are disagreeing only over a matter of terminology. While Thomson & Martinet seems to subsume the hypothetical past/past perfect under 'subjunctive' (at least, 'past subjunctive' is their section title), Quirk, et al reserves 'subjunctive' for the verb form itself and consider the hypothetical past and past perfect as separate phenomena (sections14.24 and 14.23 respectively).

On to the next thread...
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