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The following is part of writing on the Navajo Code Talkers during the second world war.

*One Marine Corps signal officer summed up the situation after the war: "Were it not for the Navajo Code Talkers, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima and other places". *

Why does the writer use "were it not for" instead of "had it not been for"? Is it possible grammatically?

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They both mean exactly the same in this context. The use is simply the writer's preference.
"were it not for" is, perhaps, is slightly less common but can be used when discussing both the past and the present.
"Were it not for lack of time, I could have gone to the shops"
"Were it not for lack of time, I could be going to the shops"
Whilst "had it not been for" can only be used for past events.

  • ...What about this sentence..For example, if it was not for the aid received by the European countries after the World War 2 from the US under marshal plan,they tremendously would have to struggle to reach where they are today. Is this sentence correct? – Sudhir Sharma Jun 10 at 10:34
  • Th sentence is slightly wrong, it should be "If were not for the aid received by the European countries after the World War 2 from the US under marshal plan,they would have to struggle tremendously to reach where they are today. ". In general the adverb should be as close to the verb as possible. and the Marshal Plan was a past event was could be interpreted as ongoing. – Peter Jennings Jun 10 at 11:08
  • ..is it 'if were' or 'if it were'? Can we also use would have had instead of would have? – Sudhir Sharma Jun 10 at 11:38
  • Sorry, my typo, Yes it should be "If it were not..." or alternatively "Were it not ... ". Yes "would have had" instead of "would have" are equally valid in this context. – Peter Jennings Jun 10 at 13:39
  • ..Thanks Sir. One last question is in a conditional sentence can we always use would have and would have had interchangeably in the main clause. – Sudhir Sharma Jun 10 at 17:18

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