Let's imagine I wrote a report a day ago and now I'm informing my partners about this. Can I say:

  • Elena will correct me if I missed something important.
  • Elena will read my report in the future and correct me once I missed something in the past (a day ago).

2 Answers 2


As FumbleFingers mentions in his comment, this structure is fine and not uncommon. In English, we often modify the sentence to match a particular perspective, in this case the perspective of Elena, from the future, looking back over something I did in the past. This in comparison to:

Elena will correct me if I miss something important.

This perspective is of me, looking forward to something I will do, which Elena will later correct.

This can be tricky and can be ambiguous without good time markers. Although you provide this information in your question, in your actual example it's not clear if you will miss something in the future (from when you are speaking) or you've already missed something in the past. In casual conversation, this information might not be important or you might have already provided context in the previous sentence, so it's not a big deal. Just something to think about.

Consider these two examples:

Elena said she will correct me if I miss something important.
Elena said she will correct me if I missed something important.

Because I'm indirectly quoting Elena, it's more apparent that, if I say "miss". it means I will do the task in the future, and "missed" means I've already done the task.

Of course, this assumes that everyone chooses their words carefully instead of talking as they are thinking. Native speakers often say sentences with confusing or ambiguous verb tenses, and you have to parse the actual meaning from context.

  • I don't think a shift in perspective is needed: I will have to stop by the house because I left my notebook there. Subordinate clauses implying causal relationships often combine a past cause with a future consequence, whether they are of the form "if past, future" or "because past, future". Questions of perspective become important when describing something said by someone in the past--were they talking about events that were in the future but are now in the past, or events that were and remain in the future?
    – supercat
    Jul 8, 2017 at 5:42
  • @supercat Sure, not since OP edited his question to add the relevant information. The question I answered was more ambiguous.
    – Andrew
    Jul 8, 2017 at 17:31

Whether a native speaker will use the present perfect or simple past in many instances will be determined by the timing of the action and by the speaker's attitude.

If you are completing your work now and are just about to send it off to Elena for review, you might well say:

Elena will correct me if I've missed something.

If you sent your work to Elena earlier in the week, say, and have "washed your hands" of the work (it is now in her hands) you might well say:

Elena will correct it if I missed something.

It is not an issue of pedantry but of expressiveness. The present perfect can be used to express the idea that you take ownership of and responsibility for your work in a way that the simple past does not. The present perfect connects the past action to your present, as speaker.

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