New Zealander here. I came across a sentence similar to the following:

If I moved, I might've been found.

To me, this is grammatically incorrect. It should be:

If I'd moved, I might've been found.

I flagged it, but three American English speakers found nothing wrong with the original sentence.

I was asked if it's also called the subjunctive, because "that's dying".

Anyway, I just wondered if this is accepted grammatical form. If so, in what realms?

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    I don't think the third conditional is disappearing; it's changing. If it were disappearing, we'd be using the second conditional for everything, which is If I move, I might be found. What we're doing is just dropping the 'd from the third conditional in informal English. It's still recognizably the third conditional, because the 've in the main clause is still there (so the 'd is in some sense redundant). And the standard form of the third conditional is still used and understood. I don't know if this is regional or widespread. Apr 18, 2016 at 13:47
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    Interesting... My colleagues balked at adding *'d, one remarking that it's "too correct", which jives with what you've said about it being an informal register.
    – user170930
    Apr 18, 2016 at 13:57
  • I once had a long discussion with my colleague about whether using only "better" in place of "had better" is grammatically correct or not as in "you better stop smoking now before it kills you." Had seems to be disappearing in English and I think this is a trend.
    – user140086
    Apr 18, 2016 at 14:20
  • Many (pairs of) tenses can be used to form the so-called third conditional and the formation you ask about is one valid form. Apr 18, 2016 at 22:24

1 Answer 1


This American English native speaker says the example sentence is incorrect. The "have been found" should be paired with "had moved" to express the correct temporal relationship between the two actions.

Your corrected version is indeed correct. It is also in the past subjunctive mood, but that's not so relevant to the the question of verb tenses. One still must match verb tense in the indicative mood. Consider this poor example:

I moved, and I had been found.

The verb tenses are inconsistent. One of these is called for instead:

I had moved, and I had been found.

I moved, and I was found.

On the other hand, consider:

I moved because I had been found.

Different tenses are used correctly in that case, expressing a different temporal relationship between the actions than in the original sentence.

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    This British native speaker agrees with @PellMell. Apr 18, 2016 at 14:04

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