[wouldn't have answered when I called] vs. [would have been surprised when I saw]

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JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Sample sentences:

1. If she had taken offence at my joke yesterday, she wouldn't have answered when I called her tomorrow.

2. If I hadn’t run into you today and found out that we were in the same class, I would have been surprised when I saw you there tomorrow.

Question:

Why are the two above cases not parallel? Why are the bolded tenses wrong in sentence #1, whereas they are correct in sentence #2?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I think the perfect tense makes sense in the second sentence because you have established a moment --the moment when you saw the listener -- as a point in time where the use of a perfect tense makes sense. You are making a strong assumption that you will see this person tomorrow and that a moment will occur when you can use "I would have been surprised" as you speculate about what will happen tomorrow and treat it as though it is something that has already happened. It's all about perspective, JJXR, and your second sentence seems to create a reasonable language environment for such statement to make sense. Your assumption about the future is based on something that definitely happened today -- running into somebody and discovering that you and the other person were in the same class.

    The first sentence tells me one thing that you may believe -- which is that she didn't take offense at your joke yesterday -- and your prediction about what will happen tomorrow. I don't see any reason here for the sort of certainty about the future that I found in your second example. There's no plausible reason for you to have such certainty about something that hasn't happened yet.

    Here's what I really expect to see in the first sentence: If she took offence at my joke yesterday, she won't answer when I call her tomorrow. You don't know whether she took offense or not yesterday, and you don't know how she'll respond tomorrow.
     
    Last edited:

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the detailed explanation, owlman5. :)
    The first sentence tells me one thing that you may believe -- which is that she didn't take offense at your joke yesterday -- and your prediction about what will happen tomorrow. I don't see any reason here for the sort of certainty about the future that I found in your second example. There's no plausible reason for you to have such certainty about something that hasn't happened yet.

    Here's what I really expect to see in the first sentence: If she took offence at my joke yesterday, she won't answer when I call her tomorrow. You don't know whether she took offense or not yesterday, and you don't know how she'll respond tomorrow.
    But what if I'm certain that she didn't take offence yesterday, and that she will answer my call:

    1a. Fortunately, she told me that she were not offended and asked me to call her. But if she had taken offence at my joke yesterday, she wouldn't have answered when I called her tomorrow.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    But what if I'm certain that she didn't take offence yesterday, and that she will answer my call:
    Then I'd think you were probably crazy, JJXR, and I wouldn't hold you accountable for anything you said once I made that determination.:D Why in the world would you want to use "if" in a remark that you were so certain about? Here's what I would say if I held such a strong belief and found myself in an odd situation in which I needed to express it: I know she wasn't offended by what I said yesterday, so she'll certainly answer me when I call her tomorrow.

    1a. Fortunately, she told me that she were not offended and asked me to call her. But if she had taken offence at my joke yesterday, she wouldn't have answered when I called her tomorrow.
    This version doesn't represent any improvement or seem any more likely to me than your first sentence did. Maybe some other member will find a justification for 1 or 1a, but I can't.
     
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