+0

I’ve asked a simile question before, but I still haven’t figured out yet how grammar works, so let me ask this one more time by using examples.

A) If I had more money, I would buy the car that I have long wanted.

→I understand the choice of present perfect in this sentence, because the speaker still wants the car and that is the truth.

B) If you were asked to describe the taste of sushi to someone who has/had never eaten it before, you would have a hard time.

→What I don’t understand is why the underlined part of this sentence can use either direct speech or subjunctive mood.

+0
teacherJapanB) If you were asked to describe the taste of sushi to someone who has/had never eaten it before, you would have a hard time.
→What I don’t understand is why the underlined part of this sentence can use either direct speech or subjunctive mood.

"had" makes "never eaten it" hypothetical or imagined, while "has" makes it real. Because the main content, "asked to describe", is hypothetical/imagined, one might ask why "has" would fit. One reason is probably that our use of language is not so super-precise that such a discrepancy is noticeable, in normal situations. Alternatively, one could argue that such a person does exist anyway, whether or not you are asked to explain something to him.

Whether or not "had eaten" is "subjunctive mood" is murky. I would prefer to call it an "unreal" tense.

+0
teacherJapanWhat I don’t understand is why the underlined part of this sentence can use either direct speech or subjunctive mood.

You can interpret 'someone' as a known person ('has') or as an unknown person ('had').

CJ

(x-post)

Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Comments  
Very interesting observations. Thank you very much, CJ and GPY.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.