I comprehend As Though/if can take the present and past tense. The problem is that sometimes I don't know what are the nuances among those 3. For instance:

**He looks as if  he knows it**

**He looks as if he knew it**

**He looks as if he'd known it**

Also, when changing the main clause to the past, should I use

**He looked as if he'd known it**

  **He looked as if he knew it**

 

Thanks in advance

Last edited by Harry O'Neil
Original Post

Hi, Harry O'Neil,

Harry O'Neil posted:

1) He looks as if  he knows it.

2) He looks as if he knew it.

3) He looks as if he'd known it.

I've numbered the sentences for ease of reference. I'd like to have David's take on this, but in my opinion:

(1) means that, judging from his appearance, perhaps he knows.

(2) can mean: (2a) that, considering his self-confidence, one would think he knows, but he does not (in this case, knew is unreal past). It can also mean (2b) that apparently he did know something (in which case knew expresses real past).

(3) means that, contrary to what his appearance indicates, he did not know (the opposite of (2b) above).

Harry O'Neil posted:

4) He looked as if he'd known it.

5) He looked as if he knew it.

(4) can mean the same as (3) (from a past perspective) or can be the past form of (2b).

(5) can mean the same as (1) or (2a), in both cases from a past perspective.

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor
Gustavo, Contributor posted:
Harry O'Neil posted:

1) He looks as if  he knows it.

2) He looks as if he knew it.

3) He looks as if he'd known it.

I've numbered the sentences for ease of reference. I'd like to have David's take on this, but in my opinion:

(1) means that, judging from his appearance, perhaps he knows.

(2) can mean: (2a) that, considering his self-confidence, one would think he knows, but he does not (in this case, knew is unreal past). It can also mean (2b) that apparently he did know something (in which case knew expresses real past).

(3) means that, contrary to what his appearance indicates, he did not know (the opposite of (2b) above).

Hi, Harry and Gustavo,

I agree with your interpretation of (1), Gustavo. Some old-fashioned prescriptivists would object to (1), however, because "as if" may be parsed there as "as [he would look] if."

Thus, (1) may be read as implicitly containing a mixed conditional. Here, the informal locution that most native speakers would use -- "He looks like he knows it" -- means the same thing as (2): "He looks as if he knew it."

However, as you say, (2) could also be used if one knew that he did not know "it." I often use "as though" as a work-around for (1). That way I avoid using "like" as a subordinating conjunction and also avoid using an implicit mixed conditional.

  • He looks as though he knows it.

Sentence (3) means, technically, "He looks as he would look if he had known it." Thus, it is counterfactual. He didn't know it, whatever it is; but if he had known it, he would look as he does now.

Gustavo, Contributor posted:

Harry O'Neil posted:

4) He looked as if he'd known it.

5) He looked as if he knew it.

(4) can mean the same as (3) (from a past perspective) or can be the past form of (2b).

(5) can mean the same as (1) or (2a), in both cases from a past perspective.

Yes, in those cases, we are transposing the same interpretations into the past. 

Add Reply

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×