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Reply to "As if & as though"

Hi, David,

Hi, Freeguy—Either "as if" for "as though" can be used; they mean the same thing. However, only "had seen" makes sense in the dependent clause. If she had seen a ghost, she would look as she does now. With "saw," it would be important to add "just" ("just saw") to clarify that past time meaning is intended.

  • She looks as if she had seen a ghost (a moment ago).
  • She looks as if she were seeing a ghost (right now).
  • She looks as if she just saw a ghost (a moment ago).

In 'English Grammar In Use' by Raymond Murphy, page (237), he gives the following example provided by its answer:

 - Claire comes into the room. She looks absolutely terrified.

You say to her: What’s the matter? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost. /
… as if you saw a ghost.

I see that 'have seen' is the better one as it keeps the mood in the present and to be more emphatic that is a real situation or maybe more indicative that I believe in ghosts. Using 'saw' seems related to the subjunctive mood, I guess.  I think 'had seen' is a  past subjunctive mood. I believe we can also create another mood by using 'She looked as if she had seen a ghost', but there might be a difference in meaning. What do you think? You know I always appreciate your opinion.

Last edited by ahmed_btm
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