had/would

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kanu

Senior Member
Hello, I have one question

1) If had been president I would have taught a lesson to terrorists. :tick:

2) If I was president I would teach a lesson to terrorists.:confused:

I have confusion in second or is it a way of speaking informally. "If I could be president I would teach a lesson to terrorists." (it is understandable)
 
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  • Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    I would use the subjunctive form after "If" i.e. "If I were president..." I would also change the order of the final phrase to: I would have taught the terrorists a lesson / I would teach the terrorists a lesson
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    "If I had been president" is talking about the past. "If I could be the president I would teach the terrorists a lesson" (yes, it's understandable) is speaking about the future. However, if you wish that you were the president at this moment you should say "If I were the president ..."
    Does that help or it is even more confusing?
     

    kanu

    Senior Member
    " If I were president I would teach the terrorists a lesson." (present)



    " If I had been president I would have taught the terrorists a lesson." (past)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I agree with FF; for (2) the subjunctive is best. Some people (actually many people) do say "was" when they should be saying "were", but I guess nobody taught them any better.
    As for the word order at the end, I agree that "a lesson to terrorists" sounds wrong, but I would leave out "the": "I would teach (or I would have taught) terrorists a lesson", assuming the OP is speaking generally and is not referring to a specific group of terrorists (he didn't say "to the terrorists").
     
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