+0
Scenario: I'm talking about an incident in the past.

Are these correct? If not, why? What do they mean?
How do I ask questions after the 'if' part?

1. If he had used the car, why would it still be there?
2. If he used the car, why would it still be there?
3. If he had used the car, why is it still be there?
4. If he used the car, why is it still be there?

5. If he had used the car, why had it still been there?

For the past, do I use past perfect or just past? I think I should use past perfect, is that correct?

6. If he had used the car, it would have been there. (I know this is right. This is a sentence but how do I turn this into a question? What options do I have? Like how do I change the bold part into a question? Do I change it to 'why had it still been there? ' Is that the only option I have with that conditional?

I hope this is clear. If not, please let me know.

Okay I think I have an better example of what I'm trying to say above. Take a look:
7. If I was rich, could I buy that? (Correct?)
8. If I was rich, can I buy that ? (Incorrect?)
9. If I am rich, can I buy that ? (Correct?)
So do the conditional rules apply to questions as well?

Are these correct? As you see, I have used this above. Should I use 'parts' or 'part' ? Or does either of them work?
10. How do I ask questions after the 'if' part?
11. How do I ask questions after the 'if' parts?

Thanks.
+0
Hello Jack

1. If he had used the car, why would it still be there? ] Correct.

2. If he used the car, why would it still be there? ] Correct. 'If he used the car in the getaway, why would it still be there?'

3. If he had used the car, why is it still be there? ] I would change this to: 'if he used the car, why is it still there?' (Or #1 above.)

4. If he used the car, why is it still be there? ] Correct, if you change it to 'why is it still there?'.

5. If he had used the car, why had it still been there? ] I would change this to: 'if he had used the car, why was it still there?'

6. If he had used the car, it would have been there.] You can question-ify this into:

'If he had used the car, would it have been there?'
'If he had used the car, why would it have been there?'

7. If I was rich, could I buy that? (Correct?) ] To make the meaning clearer, you can use the subjunctive: 'if I were rich, could I buy that?'.

As it stands, the sentence has an additional, rather obscure meaning: 'if it's true that I was rich, may I buy that?' (Or: 'if it's true that I was rich, would it be possible for me to buy that?')

8. If I was rich, can I buy that ? (Incorrect?) ] Again, this literally means: 'if it's true that I was rich, is it possible for me to buy that? may I buy that?'. (Another very obscure meaning.)

Cf: 'if I was indeed a good student this morning, as you say I was, can I buy that DVD you promised me?'

9. If I am rich, can I buy that ? (Correct?) ] Yes; as a naive inquiry. Cf:

'If I am good, can I have that toy?'

MrP
Comments  
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Why isn't this one okay?

1. If he had used the car, why had it still been there?

I cannot say 'Why had it still been there?' ?

What do these mean?
2. If he had used the car, why would it have been there?
3. If he had used the car, why had it still been there?

What do these mean?
4. If he had used the car, why would it have been there?
5. If he had used the car, why was it still there?

I know these are correct and I know what they mean:
6. If I had used the car, it would have been there. (Past, past?)
7. If I had used the car, it would be there. (Past action, present result?)
What about #4 and #5? I can see the difference in meaning between them. Could you tell me?

Thanks.
This is not so much about the questions you're asking, but it might help you:
‘if’ clauses:
1. If I run, I will catch the bus. = Condition
2. If I ran, I would catch the bus. = Unlikely to accomplish
3. If I had run, I would have caught the bus. = No longer or not possible (e.g. If I were you, I would have refused the offer)

These are fixed combinations.
The tense you use in the if clause is the tense you use in the other clause.
Hello Jack

I changed #1 to a more usual structure. It is possible to find a context for your #1, however; though it would probably be fictive:

1. 'MrP examined the inside of the car. It looked exactly as it had done yesterday evening. Everything was in exactly the same place. Yet the clock said 145000 miles. Yesterday it had said 144960. Jack had obviously used the car for the getaway. But if he had used the car, why had it still been there at quarter to three that morning? Why hadn't he simply dumped it? And it had been there at quarter to three that morning: Vince had already given a sworn statement to that effect...'

Here, the IF clause and the main clause both relate to a time before the time of the narrative, and so are in the past perfect. It's reported thought: MrP is thinking 'If Jack has used the car, why was it still here at 2:45 this morning?'. To report that thought, we put both verbs back a tense. (But it would be more idiomatic to use 'was', in the question: because 'to be' is stative, 'had been' is a subset of 'was', and so 'was' can replace it.)

2. This could be put in the place of #1, in the passage above. However, whereas 'why had it still been there' refers to a particular event (that particular 'being there'), 'why would it have been there' is more speculative: it is a more remote way of viewing the same situation. (The remoteness resides in the choice of 'would have' .)

3. See #1.

4. See #2.

5. Whereas a bald 'why had it still been there' relates the 'being there' to 'before the time of speaking', a bald 'why was it still there' could imply that the 'being there' had continued up to the moment of speaking. If you want to limit 'why was it still there' to a particular period, you have to add an adverbial temporal phrase ('why was it still there at 6 o'clock?').

6. Yes; past hypothesis, past imaginary result of that hypothesis.

7. Yes; past hypothesis, present imaginary result of that hypothesis.

#4 ('would have been') makes the 'being there' more remote; 'was' makes it more immediate.

You can use 'why would it still have been there' even for a real situation: you are considering various possible reasons (possible whys) for a given situation, so several of course must be 'wrong' reasons. Hence the 'would have been', which gives an air of 'rumination'.

Here, though, 'why was it still there' doesn't have that 'ruminative' feeling: to me, it sounds as if the speaker can't even imagine one reason. Hence the ordinary past tense.

MrP
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.