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"He couldn't foresee devoting himself to anything other than that passionate desire, even if the fire eventually burns him down." Is 'burns him down' correct? The speaker is okay with the fire burning him down in the future if that is the consequence of following his passion.

  • .. should eventually burn .. – Toothrot Apr 22 at 23:11
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Couldn't is the past tense of 'can't'; the situation being described is in the past; the burning down was a hypothetical possible consequence; the correct verb form for 'burn' is the future in the past (would burn): he couldn't foresee devoting himself to anything other than that passionate desire, even if the fire would eventually burn him down."

Future in past

  • "I couldn't see myself doing it, even if I would lose" means though I know I will lose I still wouldn't do it. "i couldn't see myself doing it, even if I lost" means that I wouldn't do it and also I am unsure if I will lose. If my meanings are correct then I would like to convey the second meaning on the sentence in question. – PsyPhi Nov 24 '18 at 4:31
  • @PsyPhi - Using the "future in the past", to which I linked an explanation, the "would" after "if" applies to the consequence, not the action. It means it was definitely going to happen, if I did the thing. I knew that if I lit the fuse of the dynamite, it would explode. – Michael Harvey Nov 24 '18 at 8:30

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