... he would apologize for what he (had) said

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Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Is Past Perfect really needed in this sentence?

"If Paul were politer he would apologize for what he (had) said."

Thank you :)
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Not in my humble opinion. I would accept 2 sentences of this kind:

    If Paul were politer he would apologise for what he said. - general hypothetical present
    If Paul were politer he would have apologised for what he said. - specific past reference - Paul is generally not quite polite so he did not apologise for what he did.

    PS. I suppose it would take more context to make the "had said" version sound logical, e.g. another past even being involved...
     
    Last edited:

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hi Boozer :)
    Your suggested sentence refers wholly to the past: "If Paul were politer he would have apologised ...". It means that he didn't apologise because he is not polite.
    My sentence refers to future: "If he were politer he would apologise ..." - there is a chance he will apologise, but not big.
    I've got a problem with which tense should follow "he would apologise". For "what he had said" or "what he said".
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Your analysis is correct, Hotmale. :)
    After you explanation, I would suggest using only "what he said". But let's see what others think as well. :)
     

    Linguo IS Dead

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I agree. I would use "what he said". He said something at some point in the past. It doesn't matter exactly when.

    If you use "what he had said", then you're specifying that he said something before something else happened, also in the past.

    Let's imagine that ten years ago, David had a son and let him eat candy. Paul said to David, "That's terrible! If I ever have children, I will never let them eat candy!" (He should probably have apologized to David right then, but we'll ignore that for now.) Then, Paul had children, and eight years later (two years ago), he did let them eat candy. So Paul said one thing and later, did the opposite, and both of those things happened in the past. Got it? :)

    We could say, "If Paul were politer he would apologize for what he had said." But even then, most people would probably just say, "If Paul were politer he would apologize for what he said before/earlier."
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I agree. I would use "what he said". He said something at some point in the past. It doesn't matter exactly when.

    If you use "what he had said", then you're specifying that he said something before something else happened, also in the past.

    Let's imagine that ten years ago, David had a son and let him eat candy. Paul said to David, "That's terrible! If I ever have children, I will never let them eat candy!" (He should probably have apologized to David right then, but we'll ignore that for now.) Then, Paul had children, and eight years later (two years ago), he did let them eat candy. So Paul said one thing and later, did the opposite, and both of those things happened in the past. Got it? :)

    We could say, "If Paul were politer he would apologize for what he had said." But even then, most people would probably just say, "If Paul were politer he would apologize for what he said before/earlier."
    Lingo, thank you a lot! :)
    Your explanation is great and leaves no doubts about the tenses now.
     
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