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Hi. I think the use of "could save" is correct because I think it could be used in a time context that is before the past (so to speak, if I say it right), but have a hard time thinking of the difference between the two (please look at the underlined part). Could it be the subordinate clause part of an adjectival clause (I think it is) "that it could have helped them" usually (or never???) stays in a past tense when the tense in the main clause of an adjectival clause(I think it is) is in a past perfect tense?

The people who had hoped that it could help/could have helped them were now convinced that nothing short of financial help could help them.
Comments  
"The people who had hoped" is in the pluperfect tense (or as you put it, "before the past") However, this is academic because as they were hoping it must have been for something that at the time had not happened. (You cannot hope for something that has already happened). Therefore, they must have been hoping that it could help.

However, if your sentence had begun "The people who had thought", then it might be either, depending on whether they were looking back to an unfulfilled hope (could have helped) or still optimistic (could help).

Hope this helps.

Simon Stanley.
Subjunctive mood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

English: Had we known (pluperfect subjunctive), we could have prevented (conditional perfect) it. Everyday modern French: Si on l'avait su (pluperfect ...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjunctive_mood - Cached - Similar

I could have completed the project on time had you not mess it up. This is a subjunctive context. The fact is I didn't complete the project. Period!

I think I could get the proposal done if you give me till 5 pm. This is a conditional context.
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Thank you, Goodman and Simon.

Goodman's sentence in his response:

I think I could get the proposal done if you give me till 5 pm.

Goodman, shouldn't your sentence in your response be this?

I think I could get the proposal done if you give gave me till 5 pm.
AnonymousGoodman, shouldn't your sentence in your response be this?

I think I could get the proposal done if you give gave me till 5 pm.
It's seems to me that you are right. However, practice doesn't always correspond with theory.
wats d difference between "we thought we might have won " and "we thought we might won "
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Hi,

wats d difference between "we thought we might have won " and "we thought we might won "

If you take the time to rewrite this with an attempt to use correct capital letters, punctuation and spelling, then I'll be happy to take the time to do my best to answer it.

Does that sound fair?

Clive