I've seen this structure on a Quora post

Had I been a Muslim man, I would've been able to have sex plenty, and society wouldn't know at all because I would've had no hymen, but as a Muslim woman, my sins were easier to track.

What does that "Had I + Past participle verb" mean?

This is the post I'm referring to:


1 Answer 1


Had I been a muslimman, I would have been able to have sex plenty

This is equal to the unfulfulled conditional (conditional 3)

If I had been a muslim man , I would have been able to have sex plenty

The only difference between the two structutes is :

In the first sentence there is an inversion of the verb had and if is omitted..

The sentence means I was not a muslim man ( but I was a muslim woman), so I was not able to have sex plenty

In the link you provided, The woman thinks that as a muslim woman she did not have the freedom of a muslim man. She was not able to do what she wanted to do as she was a muslim woman

You can use similar structures in your writing.

Had I been a professor, I would have taught English lessons

Had I been a doctor, I would have treated the patients

  • Had I been X, I would've been able to do Y implies that someone wasn't (i.e. in the past) X, but that if they'd been, they would have been able, at that time, to do Y. There is such a thing as a doubly remote conditional, where the unreal situation isn't situated in the past, but this isn't one. Second of all, this construction isn't as well-represented in speech – it's somewhat formal / literary.
    – user3395
    Commented Sep 22, 2019 at 0:57

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