If she is..., she should have been able to diagnose....

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marcogaiotto

Senior Member
Italian
Here I am again! Some help, please!
Can the following sentence be considered as correct? It comes from a grammar exercise, there is no further information given about the context!
"If she is a qualified doctor, she should have been able to diagnose the illness."
"Is" sounds strange to me, I'd say "had been";but could "If she were a qualified doctor" be accepted?
Thanks a lot!!!!
 
  • Shiggles McWhigley

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The sentence is correct. Think of it as "If she is [in fact] a qualified doctor, she should have been able to diagnose the illness." You could still say it the way you suggested, too.

    In fact, it might be more acceptable to say "had been." Perhaps she received her doctorate after she was faced with diagnosing the illness. She would not have been able to professionally diagnose the illness at the time, even though she has since received her doctorate. So, in this case, the way it was worded originally begs the question.

    EDIT: Actually, the whole sentence no matter how it's worded begs the question lol
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'If she were' implies that you (or the person saying it) don't think, or at least you doubt, that she is one: perhaps her failure to diagnose the illness strongly suggests that she isn't one. 'If she is' basically accepts that she is, but now casts doubt on her ability: she should have been able to diagnose that! (We assume that if she was a qualified doctor in the past, she still is one.)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Here I am again! Some help, please!
    Can the following sentence be considered as correct? It comes from a grammar exercise, there is no further information given about the context!
    "If she is a qualified doctor, she should have been able to diagnose the illness."
    "Is" sounds strange to me, I'd say "had been";but could "If she were a qualified doctor" be accepted?
    Thanks a lot!!!!
    Your sentence is correct, Marcogaiotto, in my view.

    You aren't constrained by any of the normal rules governing tense-sequencing in conditional sentences, because this is not a true conditional sentence.

    The sentence means Given that she is a qualified doctor, she should have been able to diagnose the illness.

    The if-clause is presenting a fact (that she is a qualified doctor), not a condition - it's not saying if she was a qualified doctor, she would be able to diagnose the illness (2nd conditional), or if she had been a qualified doctor, she ought to have been able to diagnose the illness (3rd conditional). Both these last two sentences are true conditional sentences, and mean things different from each other, and each different from your sentence, Marcogaiotto.
     
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