why "same tenses" are used in the as if sentences?

brandonkim

Senior Member
Korean-Korea
Please tell me why "same tenses" are used and when they can be used in the as if sentences.

Most of the grammar books I 've read explains "as if" subjunctive as following type constructions only and I cound't find out clear explanations when"same tenses" can be used.
-as if +past(the opposite of present fact)
e.g) He speaks English fluently as if he were an American.
e.g) He looks around as if this were his first visit.​
-as if +past perfect(the opposite of past fact)
e.g) Joey talked as if he had known my secret.​
vs
followings are sentences which use "same tense" that make me confused.
e.g)The boy looked as if he were in some strange land.
e.g)she kept staring at me as if she couldn't get over her astonishment.
e.g)she looks as if she is considering my point.
e.g)Darcy says to his back as if he is the one who just told her how to spend the day.
e.g)"I really need to get back," I sigh, as if it is the last thing I want to do.​


Thank you so much for your explanations in advance
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    This is an easily understood guide:
    The past subjunctive after as if / as though indicates an unreal situation in the present. However, if the situation is true, we use a real tense to express present time:

    He looks as if he knew the answer. (he gives the impression that he knows the answer, but he (probably) doesn't know or we don't know whether he knows or not)
    He looks as if he knows the answer. (he knows the answer)
    You can find more details at "The Grammaring Guide" http://www.grammaring.com/as-if-as-though
     

    brandonkim

    Senior Member
    Korean-Korea
    Dear PauQ,

    Thank you very much. the link must be the one that I was looking for. It was a great help.

    Just wanna double check if I understood the link's context correctly,
    I summarized as following based on the link, am I correctly understood ?

    <Summary>
    S+present/ as if S+ past : unreal situation
    S+present/ as if S+ present : situation is true
    S+past/ as if S+ past : meaning should be deduced from the context

    S+present/ as if S+ past perfect : unreal situation
    S+present/ as if S+ present prefect : situation is true
    S+past/as if S+ past prefect : meaning should be deduced from the context

    p.s : One final question is do you native speakers distinguish these differences and use "as if" accordingly in their real conversation?
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Your summary works.
    do you native speakers distinguish these differences and use "as if" accordingly in their real conversation?
    Yes, although no speaker of any language speaks it without error, in the example in #2, the native speaker would make the distinction because the emphasis on knew/knows is essential to carry the meaning.
     
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