"If life existed on Mars, it is most likely to be in the form of bacteria buried deep in the planet's permafrost or lichens." What is the error?

  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Lichens are life and (as far as I am aware) grow on the surface

    If life exists on Mars, it is most likely to be in the form of lichens, or bacteria buried deep in the planet's permafrost.
     

    Stammath

    Member
    Hindi
    Lichens are life and (as far as I am aware) grow on the surface

    If life exists on Mars, it is most likely to be in the form of lichens, or bacteria buried deep in the planet's permafrost.
    Thanks for the reply. Why "existed" is incorrect?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    If life exists on Mars, it is most likely -> present -> present

    If life existed (=were to exist) on Mars, it would most likely be
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Another option: If life existed on Mars, it was most likely to have been...

    Why is"existed" is incorrect?
    If the sentence is meant to refer to the possibility of life existing now, you need "exists" to go with the words "it is".

    If you changed "it is most likely" to "it was most likely to have been", you could use "existed", but that would mean you were referring to life having existed in the past, not to life possibly existing now.

    Or, as Paul says, you could use "existed" and "would" to refer to a hypothetical situation.
     
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