as if he <is / was / had been> rich

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tasmantiger

New Member
I was wondering how 'as if ' can be used ;

1. He looks as if he is rich.
2. He looks as if he was rich.
3. He looks as if he had been rich.

4. He looked as if he was rich.
5. He looked as if he had been rich.

Could you please tell the difference respectively?
I am confused about Real or Unreal meaning!

Thanks in advance,

TasmanTiger
 
  • suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Your first one here is the most obvious, you are looking at a person and judging from is appearance, clothes, grooming, luxury car, whatever, and thinking that he looks like a rich person. This is a fine use of the words "as if".

    The others mean more or less the same, but you are experimenting with the tenses.

    2. and 3 do not really work. You are looking at him in the present and deducing things about his past. What can you be looking at that suggests he was rich in the past but not now. If he still looks rich you can stick with the present tense. If he doesn't look rich now, how can you guess that he used to be rich? This is more to do with logic than grammar.

    4 is OK because all of the events are in the past. You looked at him and at that time he appeard to be rich.
    5. suffers from the same issue as 2 and 3. Using the past perfect you place his being rich as further back in time; a logical puzzle.
     

    Jason_2_toi

    Senior Member
    English-Scotland
    Had been means he's no longer rich.

    2. and 4. are all right, since it's the subjunctive (= as though he were rich, even though he's not).

    (cross posted)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Had been means he's no longer rich.

    2. and 4. are all right, since it's the subjunctive (= as though he were rich, even though he's not).

    (cross posted)
    Is that right? I leave talk of the subjuncive to others, generally, since it is pretty rare in the UK these days and I claim no understanding of it.

    However, I thought 2 was wrong because it is a past tense formulation. In your own gloss you say "he looks as if he WERE rich" which sounds more like an acceptable (subjunctive) version to me.
     

    tasmantiger

    New Member
    Your first one here is the most obvious, you are looking at a person and judging from is appearance, clothes, grooming, luxury car, whatever, and thinking that he looks like a rich person. This is a fine use of the words "as if".

    The others mean more or less the same, but you are experimenting with the tenses.

    2. and 3 do not really work. You are looking at him in the present and deducing things about his past. What can you be looking at that suggests he was rich in the past but not now. If he still looks rich you can stick with the present tense. If he doesn't look rich now, how can you guess that he used to be rich? This is more to do with logic than grammar.

    4 is OK because all of the events are in the past. You looked at him and at that time he appeard to be rich.
    5. suffers from the same issue as 2 and 3. Using the past perfect you place his being rich as further back in time; a logical puzzle.
    Thank you, Suzi br
    I appreciate your helpful explanation!

    Good day!
    TT
     
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