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In the sentence "I went to the bank to ensure that I would have enough money for my trip," why is "would have" used instead of "will have"?

"Would have" seems to be conveying the subjunctive mood, but if I went to the bank already, wouldn't I use "will have" to express certainty about having enough money?

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  • Would is not really used in subjunctive situations. “If it were any easier, it wouldn’t be worth doing.” As you see, the subjunctive part is in the condition, not in the consequent.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 23:54

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This is a simple case of backshifting, since the past tense of will is would.

Normal Present

Today he says he will do it now.

Today I am going to the bank to make sure I will have enough money for my trip.

Backshifted Past

Yesterday he said he would do it then.

Yesterday I went to the bank to make sure I would have enough money for my trip.

This is sometimes called “the future in the past”. It is frequent in reported speech.

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  • What part of the second sentence licenses the backshifted would? I understand the example, "He said he would do it today" as the indirect-speech version of "He said, 'I will do it tomorrow'", so with the backshifted would. But I don't think the second sentence is the indirect-speech equivalent of some sentence. Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 21:34
  • @MrReality Past #2 can be seen as backshifting Present #2. If will means am going to here, then would means was going to. It's the past's future.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 11, 2020 at 21:34

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