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In the show Westworld, Anthony Hopkins uses this structure, as:

As soon as Dr.Ford left the room, he would put an end to this nightmare.

now the question is, shouldn't the sentence be like:

As soon as Dr.Ford leaves the room, he would put an end to this nightmare. or:

As soon as Dr.Ford has left the room, he would put an end to this nightmare. (in order to emphasize the fact that the action is to be completed)?

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  • Your question carries the answer. Like you've said in the last part - in order to emphasize the fact that the action is to be completed. Another example would be, touch the live wire and you're dead. – itsols May 21 '18 at 2:02
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    The viewpoint, conceptually, is from the second activity, looking back at the first activity. By taking a position at the 'would put' part of the sentence, the 'as soon as' becomes a past concept. Narrative does this all the time and tenses are really a matter of the mind choosing where in the timeline it wishes to focus and then sorting out the tenses accordingly. – Nigel J May 21 '18 at 5:12
  • @NigelJ "The viewpoint, conceptually, is from the second activity, looking back at the first activity. By taking a position at the 'would put' part of the sentence, the 'as soon as' becomes a past concept." Yes, I agree. The sentence and its meaning are comprehensible. Also, he is, according to himself, narrating. But is it grammatically correct (or at least acceptable)? Because according to my grammar book, this format is wrong. (And either present or present perfect, must be used) – Pouya May 21 '18 at 9:26
  • You need a new grammar book. Why do you think the sentence is wrong? – Peter Shor Oct 18 '18 at 22:14
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The way the OP presented this question is very misleading.

This is what Dr. Ford actually said:

Such clinical language, I would prefer the more narrative voice:

Bernard walked over to Clementine. He took the pistol from her hand. Overcome with grief and remorse he pressed the muzzle to his temple, knowing that as soon as Dr. Ford left the room he would put an end to this nightmare once and for all.

The narrative happens to be in the past tense.

If in the present tense, the last sentence would be:

Overcome with grief and remorse he presses the muzzle to his temple, knowing that as soon as Dr. Ford leaves the room he will put an end to this nightmare once and for all.

So the reason for having the past tense left and would has nothing to do with "using the past tense for a future time", but has everything to do with the fact that the narrative itself is in the past tense.

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  • Wow. Thank you so much. You are right I should have paid attention to the whole conversation. "knowing that as soon as Dr. Ford leaves the room he will put an end to this nightmare once and for all." That's what I've been wanting to hear, lol. – Pouya Apr 28 '19 at 6:06
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"As soon as Dr. Ford left the room, he would put an end to this nightmare."

This is neither past nor future tense. It is a simple conditional and is correct as it is and for that reason.

Here is another example culled from the History channel:

"A sniper would be almost immediately killed if he were captured."

Which can, of course, be rewritten:

"As soon as he were captured, a sniper would be almost immediately killed."

https://www.ceafinney.com/subjunctive/examples.html

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    Conditional perfect? How is that? In your example, isn't it a general fact - sth obvious? In my example, Dr. Ford is in fact narrating. He is stating what is going to happen in a very near future. (It is said right before he walks out of the room) and, therefore, I see it as simply the future tense starting with a time clause. and not a conditional one. Like: As soon as classes are over, Mandy is going to board a train for Kentucky. as you see, this is not a general truth, but a plan. still, I am not quite sure so if you believe I am mistaken, I'd be happy if you'd explain more. – Pouya May 21 '18 at 10:06
  • He will put an end to the nightmare if it has occured that Dr. Ford has left the room. Under the circumstances it is perfectly valid to use the conditional. "He would put an end to ... as soon as Dr. F_ left." And that is a common narrative style in particular. If I were narrating the Mandy story I would rather say, "As soon as her classes were over, Mandy would board a train for Kentucky." The simple future as no place in these settings. "It was 1969. He would live there, alone, for another 40 years." vs. "In 1969, he is going to live there, alone, for another 40 years." Just no. – Aaron K May 21 '18 at 11:34
  • On the (less common) reading of as soon as as a condition, the "would" has a conditional reading. in the more natural reading as a purely temporal expression, there is no conditionality to "would", as @Pouya says. It is simply a future in the past. Part of the problem here is the absurd (but traditional) idea of referring to VPs using the modals "will" and "would" as "tenses" and calling them things like "future" and "conditional". Like the other modals (to which they are exact syntactic parallels) they have a range of meanings, sometimes including temporal ones. – Colin Fine Oct 18 '18 at 22:29
  • I was with you right up until you proposed "as soon as he were"; Standard English has "as soon as he was" (past indicative). – ruakh Dec 19 '18 at 3:21
  • Present indicative is for things that did happen. “As soon as he was captured, he was killed.” But...”if he were captured, he would be killed.” – Aaron K Mar 29 '19 at 0:59

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