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The real condition is that A already puts B out here , and he thinks he can cover B.

Then A said :

I wouldn't put him out here if I didn't think I could cover him.

So can I change the sentence like the second one without ''didn't think''?

I wouldn't put him out here if I thought I couldn't cover him.

And does ''didn't think'' have special meaning here?

1 Answer 1

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Below I rewrite your sentences slightly to emphasize their differences. I replace 'thought' in your second sentence with 'did think' to make what I have to say more obvious.

"I wouldn't put him out here if I  (didn't) think I  (could)     cover him."

"I wouldn't put him out here if I  (did)    think I  (couldn't)  cover him."

Note the brackets around the differences. Either sentence would work; they have similar meaning. Both sentences are the speaker justifying his decision. In the first sentence the negative word used is the 'not' inside "didn't" (did not), while in the second sentence the negative word is the 'not' inside "couldn't" (could not).

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  • I also read this sentence: "he didn't think he could bear it." If I write it as: "he thought he couldn't bear it." Wouldn't there be no change in the meaning? If not then what sound more natural? Why did the writer chose the first sentence?
    – Learner
    May 19, 2021 at 18:48

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