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While reading "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", I came across the next line, said by Hermione Granger:

'If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now. <..>

But, according to the rules, the sentense should have been like:

If they hadn't found me, I would've been dead by now.

Am I wrong? What is the difference between these two sentences?

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    The rules you were taught are horribly incomplete. The reason she can say "If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now" is that in that sentence she's talking about two different time frames. They found her in the past, and she would (hypothetically) be dead in the present. The rules they teach you only apply when the if clause and the main clause are in the same time frame, that is, both in the past or both in the present. – Peter Shor Dec 7 '18 at 13:43
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    @PeterShor Your comment is a viable answer; any reason you didn't post it as one? – anaximander Dec 7 '18 at 13:53
  • @PeterShor, thank you. I think I got it. The conditional clauses is the most difficult and obscure part of English grammar for me. :) – user74785 Dec 7 '18 at 14:03
  • Only one moment: are these two sentenses equal? – user74785 Dec 7 '18 at 14:05
  • I suppose that "I would've been dead by now" implies that it happened earlier than if i said "I'd be dead now". Or, another explanation is true? – user74785 Dec 7 '18 at 14:14
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Both are fine.

"I'd" is a contraction of "I would". Similarly "Would've" is a contaction of "would have". There is no way to combine all of these three words, so in each of the two examples, although they look a bit different they are almost the same. The difference is tense.

"If they hadn't found me, I would've been dead by now".

"I would have been" is conditional and in the past. The addition of "by now" only means that the death would have occurred before now.

"If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now"

"I'd be dead now", or "I would be dead now" is conditional but in the present. In both sentences, "dead", is a present state, but follows a death, obviously. Although the conditional part of this statement is about the past ("if they hadn't found me"), the statement about being dead as a consequence is clearly in the present with the use of "now" (as opposed to "by now").

  • >This second sentence puts in clearly in the present with the use of "now". The second? Is it not supposed to be deeper in the past? – user74785 Dec 7 '18 at 14:33
  • @user74785 I've addressed the two sentences the other way around to how you presented them. I've just quoted them, hope this clear it up. – Astralbee Dec 7 '18 at 14:50
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    "There is no way to combine all of these three words" at least not a standard way that people would recognise in print. People do sometimes run all three words together "I'd've" in speech. – Peter Green Dec 7 '18 at 15:34
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The rules you were taught are horribly incomplete.

The reason she says

"If they hadn't found me, I'd be dead now"

is that in that sentence she's talking about two different time frames. They found her in the past, and she would (hypothetically) be dead in the present.

The rules they taught you only apply when the if clause and the main clause are in the same time frame, that is, both in the past or both in the present. The second conditional is for when both events are in the present or future, and the third conditional is when both events are in the past. If you have an unreal conditional where the clauses have different time frames, you conjugate one clause according to the second conditional, and the other according to the third conditional.

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