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Hi,

Are the following sentences equivalent? Also is sentence 1, guessing about what could have happened (past real) or saying what should have been done to catch the train (past impossible)?

1. For Dorothy to have been able to catch the 10:00 pm train, she would have had to have called a cab by 8:00 pm.

2. For Dorothy to have been able to catch the 10:00 pm train, she would have had to call a cab by 8:00 pm.

Thanks,

MG.

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Comments  
#1 clearly has another layer of perfection. In #2, the call is made (or initiated, or placed) by 8:00. In #1, the call has been completed by 8:00.
The difference is theoretical rather than practical, because the gap between the two may be infinitely small.
How long does it take to call a cab? If you call a cab at 8:00, you surely will have called it by 8:01. Emotion: big smile
You may argue about what it means to call a cab. You could say that to successfully call a cab, the call must be completed (perfected).
Others might say, "I called [for] a cab but no one answered."
I don't see where the "extra perfect" effects the ambiguity of speculating on what might have happened vs. suggesting what she should have done.
I'm not acquainted with the rules for past imposslble tense and past real tense (way past).

So I guess I'd say the two sentences are equavalent in effect but not in grammar. I believe the native ear hearing one today and the other tomorrow would not be aware of the difference - except perhaps to pick up on the excessive use of the past perfect.
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Musicgold

Are the following sentences equivalent? ...

1. For Dorothy to have been able to catch the 10:00 pm train, she would have had to have called a cab by 8:00 pm.

2. For Dorothy to have been able to catch the 10:00 pm train, she would have had to call a cab by 8:00 pm.

Yes. For all practical purposes, they are equivalent. Even the following is essentially equivalent.

For Dorothy to have been able to catch the 10:00 pm train, she would have to have called a cab by 8:00 pm.

As is the following:

For Dorothy to have caught the 10:00 pm train, she ... [any of the three versions mentioned above].

If you accept the general principle that fewer words are better than many, I think you can pick the best version easily. Any of them will do, though.

I don't follow the line of reasoning regarding 'past real' and 'past impossible'. I don't see these sentences as either of those. In any version you pick, the relationship is basically the same: One thing could not have happened unless another thing happened. It's a logical deduction about hypothetical past events.

CJ
Thanks folks.
CalifJimI don't follow the line of reasoning regarding 'past real' and 'past impossible'
Sorry for the confusion. I was trying to understand if statement 1 was a past real conditional or a past unreal conditional. I am trying to understand whether Dorthy could actually catch the train.
MusicgoldI am trying to understand whether Dorthy could actually catch the train.
Yes. She certainly could -- if she called the cab in time, of course.

CJ
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This "real/unreal" stuff is peaking my curiosity.
You could say, "Well, she didn't catch the train, so therefore she must not have called the cab. (Is that what you mean by "unreal"?)
Or you could say, "Well, she caught the train, so therefore she must have called the cab."
"She caught the train" is true. Is that "real"?
You could also turn it around: She didn't call the cab and therefore couldn't have caught the train, or, She called the cab and therefore must have caught the train.

(I think people do make up rules about these things.) Emotion: nodding

It does seem as if the extra past perfect would be more likely in the unreal situation. That is, your sentence is reasoning that the proposed situation is false.
CalifJim Yes. She certainly could -- if she called the cab in time, of course.

Ok, so you are saying she did catch the train.

I have seen some people using this structure ( to have been able to .... would have had ) while discussing hypothetical situations. For example, had Dorthy missed the train, then somebody, while assessing the reasons why she missed the train, could use sentence 1.

Is that possible?
MusicgoldOk, so you are saying she did catch the train.
No, no, no!!!

caught the train (=did catch the train) is not the same as could catch the train.

The sentence is entirely about the possibility of catching the train. It doesn't say anywhere in this sentence that she caught the train. Provided the call for the cab happened in time, she had everything necessary to catch the train. The possibility of catching the train was there because of the call for the cab. Further than that, we cannot go. We cannot say that she caught the train, only that she had the ability to do so once the call was made.

CJ
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