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Which is correct?

If Mark had not included his own name in the message, we would have no idea who was behind it.

If Mark had not included his own name in the message, we would have had no idea who was behind it.

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/past-perfect/

  • They're both correct, but with different meanings. 'If Mark had not included his own name in the message, we would now have no idea who was behind it.' // 'If Mark had not included his own name in the message, we would have had no idea who was behind it, and would have been unable to award him the employee suggestion award that year.' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 26 '18 at 20:15
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I think they are both OK. Say "we would have had no idea" if you are talking about what (hypothetically) we would have known at a certain time in the past. But say "we would have no idea" if you are talking about what (hypothetically) we would know now.

  • Regarding the first one, wouldn't it be better to say: 'If Mark didn't include his own name, we would have no idea." ? – Jun Dalisay Mar 26 '18 at 19:29
  • I guess I do not want to use the simple past for a hypothetical situation. – GEdgar Mar 26 '18 at 20:01
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This is the correct answer because it is the third conditional sentence - If mark had not included his name in the message, he would not have had no idea who was behind it. We make the third conditional by using the past perfect after 'if' and then 'would have' and the past participle in the second part of the sentence:

if + past perfect, ...would + have + past participle

https://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/third-conditional.html

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The latter of the two is correct. The importance of saying "we would have had..." is that it maintains the same tense throughout the sentence.

  • Tenses exist to show that everything didn't happen at the same time. If you insist on using the same tense throughout, you defeat the whole purpose of tenses. – Peter Shor May 26 '18 at 17:23

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