it looks as though (as if )

it looks as though (as if )

Postby tabula rasa on Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:56 pm

Hi Prof.,

I have read the below sentences in an english grammar book which had no explanation about why
a past form,not a present,is used in these kinds of structures.

-It looks as though we HAD a busy afternoon in front of us.
-It looks as if we WERE expected to wait here.
-I can't see any other door .It looks as if we WENT in here.

Could you explain the reason why past forms are used and if present forms were to be used, would
that change the meanings of sentences ?

tabula rasa

Re: it looks as though (as if )

Postby prof on Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:37 am

Generally the tenses in a sentence should match. So in a normal English sentence the first would be

It looks as though we have a busy afternoon in front of us.

However, if the situation has changed, and the afternoon is no longer busy, this can be said as

'It looks as though we had a busy afternoon in front of us [but we do not have one any more].'

So when the situation has changed from what it was at the time the arrangement was made, we can use a present and a past in this way. So if you arranged to meet someone at a place, and then found that you could not reach that place (for example because it was closed because of an accident), you might say

It looks as if we were expected to wait there [but we can't].

The final sentence is different - if you went through a door that looks completely different on the other side, you might be confused and say

I can't see any other door.It looks as if we went in here.

In this sentence you have actually completed the action in the past tense.
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