With the exams now only a week off, I had to study hard

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
off
used to say how much time there is between now and a future event:
With the exams now only a week off, I had to study hard
LDOCE

It's a week from now till the exam. Why is the speaker using "had to" instead of "have to"?
Thanks.
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    The speaker is referring to a time in the past as "now."

    Similarly:

    "I was supposed to meet her train, and I was late. I had left the house in plenty of time, but traffic had been bad. Now it was after six, and I had to park in the expensive lot next to the station or I'd be even later."

    [Cross-posted with srk]
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Thank you, everybody.

    "I was supposed to meet her train, and I was late. I had left the house in plenty of time, but traffic had been bad. Now it was after six, and I had to park in the expensive lot next to the station or I'd be even later."
    Could you tell me, if you were talking about the past, why you didn't say I'd have been even later.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    You could make an argument for that, I suppose. To me, "I'd be even later" is consistent with "I had to park in the expensive lot," while "I'd have been even later" would require the earlier phrase to be "I'd had to park..."
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I don't know, but to me "I'd have been even later" is consistent with "I had to park in the expensive lot", because they both denote a past time (no matter if it's the simple past or past perfect). It's just "past conditional", while "I'd be even later" is present conditional...
     

    srk

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think the sentence in your original post could have been With the exams then only a week off, I had to study hard.

    "Now" is used to give the reader a sense of being there experiencing the writer's feelings.

    I read Florentia's "... and I had to park in the expensive lot or I would be even later" in the same spirit. It is how she saw it in the moment.

    I'm not answering for her; I'm trying give my own answer as to how I read her sentence and why that choice of tense can make good sense.
     
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