"My office could not have been more depressing"?

AmieAmie

Member
Vietnamese
"My office could not have been more depressing"?
[Topic sentence added to post. DonnyB - moderator]


Does it use subjunctive form and mean: in the past, my office could be more depressing?

Help me!
 
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  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    It means the office was very depressing. It was not possible for the office to be more depressing than that.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It’s just a set phrase. I/they/it etc. could not have been [comparative form of adjective]. It means is/were etc. extremely/exceptionally [adjective], in the sense that it would not be possible for it/them to be more so.
    When our grandson was born, we could not have been happier.
    The hospital staff could not have been more helpful.
    My office could not have been more depressing.
     

    anahiseri

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain) and German (Germany)
    It's not subjunctive but past conditional. The past conditional ist used for unreal situations in the past. It's easier to understand in a complete conditional sentence:
    If I had studied harder, I could have / would have passed the test.
    had + participle - - - - - - could have / would have + participle

    A -Don't complain. If they had never painted your office, it could have been still more depressing.
    B - No, even if they had painted it in bright colours, it couldn't have been more depressing.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It is a type 3 conditional with no "if" clause. It is an interesting philosophical question whether we can speak of some kind of implied "if" clause.
    It could not have been more depressing if it (had) tried.
    It could not have been more depressing even if someone had specifically set out to make it as depressing as possible.
    It could not possibly have been more depressing.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Agreed. There is an implied if-clause. In fact, it’s often included – in this sort of statement:

    They couldn’t make a worse job of it if they tried!
    I don’t think we could have picked better opponents if we had tried.
     
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