I would have told him if I <had seen, saw> him

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Good Afternoon everyone,

What would be the most appropriate:

I would have told him if I had seen him or:
I would have told him if I saw him?

I understand that when using the conditional tense and if its a probability then you would use:

If and will, however, if its an improbability then it would be:

If and would

but, I believe that the Present Perfect tense you must use has/have + the Past Participle, therefore, the rule of the conditional by using: saw would be invalid, however, it looks and sounds incorrect, which means that I AM CONFUSED!

Any assistance in the matter would help clairfy things,

Thank you,

  • lady p

    New Member
    English - UK
    Hi Bling boy,

    you are talking about something that didn't happen in the past - you didn't see him, so therefore, you didn't tell him. This is the third conditional and the structure is as folows:

    subject + would + have + past participle + if + subject + past perfect.

    for example: I would have told him if I had seen him.

    You can also switch the clauses around and say it like this:

    If I had seen him I would have told him.

    In third person this phrase would be: She would have told him if she had seen him.

    I hope that helps.

    Lady P.
    Dear Lady P,

    Thank you very much for clarifying this grammar aspect as it becomes quite confusing!

    Am I correct in saying, however, that you have three conditionals?

    Conditional 1: a probability
    Conditianal 2: Improbability
    Conditional 3: Using Wish

    Or is there a simpler way of remembering the rules?


    lady p

    New Member
    English - UK
    Hi Bling Boy,

    the basic rules are as follows:

    1st Conditional: 50% possibility. Talking about the future.

    Using if + present simple + will/can/shall/may + infinitive verb

    If it rains I will/can/shall/may stay at home.

    2nd Conditional: 10% possibility. Talking about the future.

    Using if + past simple + would/could/might + infinitive verb

    If I won the lottery I would/could/might buy a yacht and sail around the world.

    3rd Conditional: 0% possibility. Talking about the past.

    Using if + past perfect + would/could/might + have + past participle.

    If I had seen him I would/could/might buy have told him.

    The is no easy formula that I know of for remembering conditionals but maybe the above will help. There are also some great websites to help with English grammar in general.

    Take it easy,
    Lady p
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