2

If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have got a refund after I got sick and had to cancel.

OR

If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have got a refund after I had got sick and (had) had to cancel.

?

  • As to which one is "correct", then that depends on your teacher. Otherwise, it might depend on the speaker (AmE vs BrE). – F.E. May 26 '14 at 20:48
  • @F.E. Can you elaborate? I feel the 1st one sounds more natural. – jules May 26 '14 at 23:09
  • 1
    Me, an AmE speaker, I would've thought nothing unusual at all with your 1st version (though with a slight, er, modification: "If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have gotten a refund after I got sick and had to cancel." -- but that is me with my dialect. Others, with different dialects (such as BrE) might have different preferences or evaluations. – F.E. May 27 '14 at 3:31
  • Okayee, I looked a bit into this, and there seems to be some related material to your question in the 2002 CGEL, page 158, within section "(e) Simplification"--specifically in their discussion of [32.iii] "She said she [loved/had loved] him when she was at college." – F.E. May 27 '14 at 5:40
  • @ F.E. So here in your example "She said she [loved/had loved] him when she was at college." Both are 'perfectly grammatical' ?? – user73373 Jun 21 '14 at 19:46
2

First, allow me to make a little tweak to your two versions, by using the past-participle "gotten", so that my AmE ear can help me out:

  1. If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have gotten a refund after I got sick and had to cancel.

  2. If I had bought insurance for the trip, I would have gotten a refund after I had gotten sick and (had) had to cancel.

Yes, your evaluation "I feel the 1st one sounds more natural" is good.

Both versions are grammatical. But version #1 uses the simple preterite where version #2 uses the compound preterite-perfect -- and so, version #1 would often be preferred because of its greater simplicity. (2002 CGEL, page 158, within section "(e) Simplification".)

LONG VERSION: Your question is interesting, for it involves many issues (besides the issue of BrE vs AmE):

  • remote conditional (which some traditional grammars think involves subjunctive modality)

  • simple past-tense versus past-perfect construction (i.e. preterite vs preterite-perfect)

  • optional backshifting

The context for your situation is that you had not previously bought insurance, and then you had gotten sick and had to cancel the trip. Thus, your conditional is a remote conditional construction (not an open conditional), and since the conditional "if P" part is counterfactual, many traditional grammars would consider that subjunctive modality is involved.

Your question is about a subordinate clause that is within the "then Q" part of the conditional construction: that is, does the subordinate clause "after I [got/had gotten] . . . cancel" have to be backshifted?

The answer is no. In your example, the backshifting is optional: version #2 does that backshift, but version #1 doesn't. When the backshift would replace a preterite (that is, a past-tense verb) with a preterite-perfect construction (that is, a past-perfect), then often the speaker has the choice which one to use (but not always).

Because the version with the preterite is simpler, then there's usually a preference for that simpler preterite version (instead of the preterite-perfect). And so, for your example, there is a preference for version #1.

Caveat: This explanation is specifically tailored to your specific examples; for other types of examples, the evaluation and explanation can be significantly different.

For more info related to this subject, there's the vetted grammar source: the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, pages 155-158 (especially the discussion about [32] on page 158).

1

I'd say:

If I had bought insurance for the trip I had to cancel due to illness, I would have gotten/received a refund.

  • So is that a vote for the 1st version or the 2nd version? – F.E. May 26 '14 at 20:54
  • 2
    @F.E. For neither. They both sound awkward to me. – Elian May 26 '14 at 21:01
  • So what would be your dialect? BrE? And what in those two versions are making them sound awkward to your ear? – F.E. May 27 '14 at 3:33
0

I would say, If I had bought insurance for the trip, and I had then become sick and had to cancel, I would have received a refund.

(At least in AmE, we don't say "an insurance"; it's either "an insurance policy" or "insurance".)

  • I guess the "after" is key here; it introduces the 2nd subordinate clause. In your sentence it's just a repetition, I think. – jules May 26 '14 at 16:43
  • @jules Yes, it seems that Drew's version says something quite different from yours. – F.E. May 26 '14 at 16:55
  • @F.E. Yes, but which is correct - with simple or perfect? – jules May 26 '14 at 20:33
  • I don't get your point. You said "after", and I said "and then". What are you trying to say that is different from conditionally getting a refund after canceling because you were too sick to go? – Drew May 26 '14 at 21:39
  • @Drew I'm saying that "after" and "and then" may be functionally similar, but they're different syntactically. Eg. After I'm done eating, I'll go for a walk VS I'll finish eating and then go for a walk. – jules May 26 '14 at 22:45

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