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This question already has an answer here:

Is it grammatically correct to use "as if/though" in the same sentence with an if-clause? For example, "He wanted to explain himself. As if/though IF they knew the truth, they would forgive him." If not, is there any way to go about it? Could you just omit the second "if" and say: "As if they knew the truth, they would forgive him," implying that that's what he hoped for, but they probably wouldn't. Or maybe replacing "as if" with "like" would work? "Like if the knew the truth. . ."

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Hellion, tchrist, anongoodnurse, Tim Lymington supports Monica Oct 31 '15 at 10:55

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Nothing wrong with:

He wanted to explain himself. As though if they knew the truth, they would forgive him.

Your alternative:

He wanted to explain himself. As if if they knew the truth, they would forgive him.

is a little more problematic. I'm not sure the phrase "as if" used in this way is grammatically correct, though it is certainly colloquial. Other than that the phrase is as grammatically valid as the other one, but is very hard to parse and sounds strange, requiring a re-read to understand.

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You can use "such that" instead of "as though", it'll work nicely with if:

He wanted to explain himself, such that if they knew the truth, they would forgive him.

You could also drop the whole thing and suggest it:

He wanted to explain himself; if they knew the truth, they would forgive him.

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This is a good example of when you can use the subjunctive. Since their knowledge of the truth is hypothetical, you could say:

  • "He wanted to explain himself, as if were they to know the truth, they would forgive him."

(For clarity, the use of "were" in the subjunctive applies to both singular and plural nouns, unlike other uses of the word in different contexts. So this answer would also apply for the sentence: "He wanted to explain himself, as if were she to know the truth, she would forgive him.")

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