background: I was having an online debate regarding the recent call for recount in US election. In the process, I used the following sentence:

What Trump would say had the table turned?

It came off as very unnatural and I am pretty sure that I messed up the subjunctive mood. Would appreciate greatly if someone can help me out here and if you could in the meantime share the grammatical reasons behind it it would be even better.

1 Answer 1


What would Trump have said if the tables were turned?

  1. In 'Wh' questions, the verb (usually an auxiliary) precedes the subject, so "What would Trump say", not "What Trump would say".

  2. It's counterfactual in the past so, use the "had" form (I understand that TEFL books call this the "third conditional"). "What would Trump have said". If you think that this is still a possibility for the future, then you could use "What would trump say".

  3. Inversion in a conditional clause ("had the tables" for "if the tables had") is grammatical, but literary. Not many people use it in ordinary speech.

  4. The idiom is "The tables are/were turned" rather than "The table turns/turned".

  5. "If the tables had been turned" is also possible.


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