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What's the difference between:

They are not your friends if you had to change for them.

They are not your friends if you have to change for them.

Context: 1 2 3 are are a group of friends, 4 considers them as his friends and wants to join them, the three friends tell him that he should change his look to show that he's worthy of being their friend and hang out with them.

4 goes to his friend (5) and tells him what the group of friends said, 5 says : Forget them they are not your friends if you had to change for them. or They are not your friends if you have to change them.

  • There reallty is not an iota of difference between the meanings of the two sentences. – P. E. Dant Aug 8 '17 at 23:14
  • Well I just wanted to make sure if one day I used the sentence people wouldn't think I'm talking about the past because of the '' had ''. – hadhave Aug 8 '17 at 23:17
  • and by the way I made a mistake that I edited sorry it's not fight but change for I was writing an example with fight but I thought change for would be easy to understand. – hadhave Aug 8 '17 at 23:19
  • There could be a very slight difference in expressing when the change was required. In the first, change was required in the past. In the second, change is required in the present. This doesn't alter the message that "poeple who require you to change are not your friends". – P. E. Dant Aug 8 '17 at 23:23
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In your context, I would use present tense. Here's why.

Suppose Joe wants to be friends with a group, and the group says that if he wants to be their friend, he has to dye his hair pink. Joe goes to his friend Jill and mentions this. Jill might say "If you have to dye your hair pink to be friends with them, they are not your friends."

Now, suppose Joe showed up one day with pink hair. Jill asked him why, and he told her that he had to dye his hair to be friends with the group. Jill might then say "If you had to dye your hair pink to be friends with them, they are not your friends."

So, which tense to use has to do with whether Joe had to dye his hair (in the past, no longer has to), or has to dye his hair. Likewise, in your context, it's a question of whether the requirement is a present requirement or a past one.

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"Had to" is past tense. It means that he has already changed or that the decision to change was in the past.

"Have to" is present tense. It means that the demand to change is still present.

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