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Is the following a correct past perfect sentence?

I would have killed the snake if I had hit him hard with a stick.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is a perfectly normal English construction and is an example of what foreign learners are sometimes taught as the Third Conditional. The speaker imagines something that didn't actually happen (in this case, he didn't hit the snake) and speculates what the consequence would have been if it had happened (he would have killed the snake).

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Why do you say that "sometimes foreign learners are taught (this) as the Third Conditional"? What would it be called when taught in English classes in Great Britain? I suppose you have grammar in English classes there, as much as we do in Italian classes here... –  Paola Jul 10 '12 at 9:12
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Unfortunately, such things are not taught in English classes in Great Britain. –  Barrie England Jul 10 '12 at 9:37
    
Wow! I'd have never thought it possible... Thanks for letting me know. P.S. If you have the rep to do it, could you please amend the spelling mistake in the title (pefect instead of perfect)? –  Paola Jul 10 '12 at 9:42
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@Paola: I was being a little flippant. Others may have more direct experience of the current state of British education. Even so, it's very likely that English teachers who are not EFL teachers would not have heard of things like the Third Conditional, and in any case there are problems with dividing up conditional sentences in this way. –  Barrie England Jul 10 '12 at 9:47
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Yes, it is. It's the third conditional, where you talk about an action in the past that didn't take place. Aside from that, you are missing the or a in your sentence.

I would have killed the snake if I had hit him hard with the or a stick.

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Thanks, @BarrieEngland. –  Noah Jul 10 '12 at 7:00
    
You were only repeating the OP's 'If', but I've changed that too. –  Barrie England Jul 10 '12 at 7:01
    
@BarrieEngland- I copied the sentence from his question. Thanks. –  Noah Jul 10 '12 at 7:04
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