1

I'm not sure about the terminology so I'll just give examples.

Present simple:

In 19th century, if you wanted to go to Japan, you had to sail.

Past simple:

Today, if you want to go to Japan, you have to take a plane.

Present perfect:

For the last 60 years, if you (???) to Japan, you have had to take a plane.

What would you put instead of the placeholder? "if you have wanted to go to Japan" doesn't sound right. Is this kind of a conditional possible at all?

3 Answers 3

2

For the last 60 years, if you have wanted to go to Japan, you have had to take a plane.

The above is grammatically correct. It could be improved stylistically but that isn't what you asked.

2

For the last 60 years, if you wanted to go to Japan, you would have had to take a plane.

1
  • 1
    Is it just me, or does this sound like the statement is no longer true?
    – Nikolai
    Jul 9, 2015 at 20:37
1

I think there are lots of acceptable tenses you can use for the last verb in this sentence. But the one in the if clause should be the simple past.

For the last 60 years, if you wanted to go to Japan, you had to take a plane.
For the last 60 years, if you wanted to go to Japan, you have had to take a plane.
For the last 60 years, if you wanted to go to Japan, you would have had to take a plane.

(The last one taken from Andy's answer.)

The tense of the if clause should be simple past. You can have an if clause that uses the present perfect, but it would need to have a different meaning:

If you have wanted to go to Japan for the last sixty years, but couldn't because you were afraid to fly, now is the time to volunteer to test our new experimental teleportation device.

1
  • Haha. +1 for the grammar. But that ad sounds too creepy to convince anyone to sign up.
    – Tushar Raj
    Jul 9, 2015 at 14:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.