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some native speakers told me the sentence is grammatically correct, but that doesn't seem grammatically correct to me.

I would correct it as "If he had been there yesterday, we could have found him".


Whose sentence is correct?

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fire1If he had been there yesterday, we could have found him.

Correct.

fire1If he were there yesterday, we could have found him.

I'd accept this as correct, too. We often substitute the past for the past perfect when the past perfect is not necessary to make the time relationships clear. We don't do this as often in conditional sentences, but it does happen, especially with the verbs be and have and especially when adverbs (like yesterday) clarify the time sequence.

CJ

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As CJ suggests, we might say that the perfect is redundant here since the anterior (past) meaning is conveyed by "yesterday".

Your title example with "were" is grammatically OK, but you could instead use the simple preterite "was", though it presents his being there as a somewhat less remote possibility than irrealis "were" does.

You can also use "had been there" (though see above), with the perfect marking backshift (or past time) and the preterite marking modal remoteness.

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CalifJim
fire1If he had been there yesterday, we could have found him.

Correct.

fire1If he were there yesterday, we could have found him.

I'd accept this as correct, too. We often substitute the past for the past perfect when the past perfect is not necessary to make the time relationships clear. We don't do this as often in conditional sentences, but it does happen, especially with the verbs be and have and especially when adverbs (like yesterday) clarify the time sequence.

CJ

Then, is this sentence also correct?


"If he were there last month, I could have met him"

fire1If he were there last month, I could have met him.

Personally, I accept it as correct.

That doesn't mean your English teacher would accept it as correct.

There's everyday English and academic English. Opinions in academic English change more slowly.

If you yourself are teaching an English class, you will have to make your own decision whether you wish to correct a student's sentence from the one above to If he had been there last month, ....

Some students just want to learn English to speak it as it is spoken because they want to live and work in an English-speaking country. Others want to learn English so that they can pass proficiency exams to get into one school or another.

CJ

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 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.

But however thinking, "to use 'were'" doesn't seem to make sense to me. could you explain why the sentence makes sense?

fire1"to use 'were'"

I can't find this anywhere in the thread. Who are you quoting?

fire1"to use 'were'" doesn't seem to make sense to me. Could you explain why the sentence makes sense?

Emotion: tongue tied Why wouldn't it make sense? 'were' is a past tense form. 'could have met' is also a reference to past time. They make sense together.

CJ

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CalifJim
fire1"to use 'were'"

I can't find this anywhere in the thread. Who are you quoting?

fire1"to use 'were'" doesn't seem to make sense to me. Could you explain why the sentence makes sense?

Why wouldn't it make sense? 'were' is a past tense form. 'could have met' is also a reference to past time. They make sense together.

CJ

You know, when we want to make a hypothetical situation with a sentence, "were" is only used to express the unreal situation of the present or future, which is why I'm telling you the original sentence doesn't make any sense. On top of this, as far as I ask native speakers about this, including experts in grammar, a lot of people answered me that isn't grammatically correct, but I'm not sure that means it doesn't make sense, either.

fire1You know, when we want to make a hypothetical situation with a sentence, "were" is only used to express the unreal situation of the present or future

Yes, very strictly speaking.

fire1which is why I'm telling you the original sentence doesn't make any sense.

Maybe you haven't seen or heard a lot of sentences that use that mixed conditional form, but they do exist.

fire1On top of this, as far as I ask native speakers about this, including experts in grammar, a lot of people answered me that isn't grammatically correct

Yes, even I have been known to say such things when in a purist mood.

fire1I'm not sure that means it doesn't make sense, either.

I'm with you on this.

I think that had been in particular seems to restrict the informational content of the if-clause to the past, and at times we don't want that. To my ear, the following sentence is fine, but it doesn't convey my opinion that John is not smart in general. It conveys only that he was not smart on that occasion.

If John had been smart, he would not have made such a stupid remark.

If I want to imply that John is just plain stupid, always has been, and always will be, I'm more likely to say

If John were smart, he would not have made such a stupid remark.

(You can call that a substitution of past for past perfect, or you can call it a mixed conditional.)


You might want to ponder these examples I found online:

If a tour in South America were available then, Bradley said he would have gone.
If life were that fragile then things would have been wiped out a long time ago.
If that were the case, Blake Lorenz said, they would have sent her back to Ohio.
Chances are that these items would have been hot buys if they were sold on eBay.
Obviously if we were able to make a deal earlier, we would have had no exposure.
If you were alive in 1956, you would have heard about it as soon as it happened.
I thought that if the scar were a little bit bigger the vessel would have sunk.
If Lazaridis were rude and hostile to you he would have lost my business forever.
If you were to ask him, he would have told you he was thrilled with this manager.
She would have considered it if it were more affordable.
If it were easy, politicians would have done it already.

CJ

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