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After listening to the audio file of two job interviews, my English teacher asked us, "If you were the interviewer, what additional questions would you say?" and then he wrote down some examples on the white board.

  1. I'd ask him if he *saw himself as energetic and sociable.
  2. I'd ask both of them if they *were OK with working the night shift.
  3. I'd ask if they *were comfortable with not being covered by insurance.

My question is why "saw", "were", "were" are here? Why my teacher use past tense verbs like in the above? I think they(verbs) are supposed to be present tense. Maybe my teacher made mistakes? Or are there any difference meanings by using past tense in those sentenses?

If I'm mistaken, please correct me. Thanks in advance.

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All three sentences are second conditional.

You need the second conditional here because none of you actually were interviewing anyone for a job. It was, therefore, an "unreal" situation.

The second conditional is formed by using a past tense verb in the if clause, and would in the main clause. Your teacher shortened I would to I'd in all three sentences.

  • I thought here "if" is "whether or not". So those verbs are included in main clause. – Young Dec 18 '18 at 22:22
  • 1. I'd ask him if he *saw himself as energetic and sociable. = a. (If I were the interviewer,) I would ask him whether he *sees himself as energetic and sociable (or not) – Young Dec 18 '18 at 22:40
  • but this is not real situation so is it supposed to be like this? "b. (If I were the interviewer,) I would ask him whether he saws himself as energetic and sociable (or not). ------------ Could you tell me which one(a or b) is right please? – Young Dec 18 '18 at 22:41

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