2

It would be great if you know them both

vs

It would be great if you knew them both

How do these sentences differ from each other?

2
  • I think one is present and another is past tense
    – John Joe
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 8:10
  • @JohnJoe It's possible that the second has a clause in the simple past tense, but the phrasing is more idiomatic of JavaLatte's answer below about the subjunctive.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jul 16, 2018 at 13:24

1 Answer 1

3

When talking about hypothetical situations, we use the subjunctive were for the verb be and a backshifted tense for all other verbs.

It will be great if you know them both - real
It would be great if you knew them both - hypothetical

Note that there are two verbs- one in the if clause, the other in the main clause. Both verbs must be treated the same- both backshifted, or both not backshifted.

The second of your sentences is clearly hypothetical- both verbs are backshifted (will->would, know->knew). The first sentence is grammatically incorrect: the first verb is backshifted, but the second is not. You might hear somebody saying this in everyday conversation, but you should not write like this.

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