...if the bus didn't arrive in two hours, he would have been waiting for three hours.

JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Sample sentences:

1. He's been waiting for a bus for an hour, so if the bus didn't arrive in two hours, he would have been waiting for three hours.

2. If he had already been waiting for a bus for an hour, and if the bus didn't arrive in two hours, he would have been waiting for three hours.

Question:

#1 implies that there is still a possibility that he will have been waiting for three hours when the bus doesn't arrive.

#2 implies that there is no such possibility: even if the bus arrives in two hours, he will not have been waiting for it for three hours.

In the sample sentences, would have been is used to describe two types of events. In sentence #1, that event can happen in reality, whereas in sentence #2 it can not. In both cases, the hypothetical result is in the future. Is this reasoning correct, and is would have been used correctly in both cases?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I usually stay out of these grammar things, but sometimes a lemming's gotta do what a lemming's gotta do. :D

    Both of these are about to break my brain. We usually go from what you want to say, to how to say it. Here, you're saying something and wondering about what it means. But fine ...

    It's the tense in the first one that's confusing me. I would expect one of these:

    1A. He'd been waiting for a bus for an hour, so if the bus didn't arrive for two more hours, he would have been waiting for three hours.
    1B. He's been waiting for a bus for an hour, so if the bus doesn't arrive for two more hours, he will have been waiting for three hours.


    This second sentence is fine with tenses (I've just added the present and future in 2B), but I still like the clarity of "for two more hours."
    2A. If he had already been waiting for a bus for an hour, and if the bus didn't arrive for two more hours, he would have been waiting for three hours.
    2B. If he has already been waiting for a bus for an hour, and if the bus doesn't arrive for two more hours, he will have been waiting for three hours.

    In sentence #1, that event can happen in reality, whereas in sentence #2 it can not.
    I'm not getting that impression. #2 could simply be part of a conversation about how long he had to wait.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    This is a very good explanation. Thank you very much for your time, Copyright. I greatly appreciate it.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I feel like I won an Olympic medal in an event I didn't even know I was participating in. :D You're welcome – I'm glad it was worth something.
     
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