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Hi

I am wondering how to use 'had to'? Is it conditional? For instance: He simply had to say yes, and the people would believe him. (1) (or) He simply had to say yes, and the people would have believed him.(2)

This is my understanding: Though both sentences are in the past tense, only (1) describes what might happen if the person were to say yes. It relates to a possible future from a past tense perspective (hence 'would' instead of 'would have'). (2), on the other hand, relates to an event that has ALREADY occurred and which is now being related to us in the past tense (hence 'would have' instead of 'would').

Is that correct?
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Hi Anon:

"Had" + infinitive is not conditional.
Here are some examples of simple statements:

I had to go. (past)
I have to go now. (present)

She had to leave early.
She has to leave early on Friday.

She had to drive faster to make up lost time.
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AnonymousI am wondering how to use 'had to'? Is it conditional? For instance: He simply had to say yes, and the people would believe him.
This is not exactly a conditional -- certainly not an unreal conditional anyway.

This is "habitual would". Every time he said yes, the people believed him. / All he had to do was say yes, and the people would believe him. You may think of it as the backshift of

All he has to do is say yes, and the people will believe him.
AnonymousHe simply had to say yes, and the people would have believed him.
This doesn't sound right to my ear. You could make a conditional out of it, but it probably wouldn't have the meaning you're looking for.

If he had said yes, the people would have believed him. [He didn't, and they didn't.]

CJ