The paragraph I have a question with:

If I were in a position where I were a principal hiring teachers, I would definitely hire Leah. She would be an asset to any teaching staff, and judging her by her work ethic and ability to get along with others, I would hire her for any job that she applied for.

It is from a recommendation letter on LinkedIn. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-thomas-24393568)


(1) Why is the phrase "applied for" used in the past tense here?

(2) Does the past tense use of the phrase "applied for" here have anything to do with the second conditional use in the paragraph?

Why I think the original phrase is a bit weird:

I think the phrase should be "applies for" in the present tense because it can mean a general idea of her applying for jobs.

1 Answer 1


It's not indication of the past tense but of the subjunctive.

You could say, in a different context:

"I will hire her for any job that she applies for."

... but starting with the "would", which expresses the sentence as a hypothetical (she hasn't applied, she may not apply, we don't know, but if she were to apply, then I would hire her) means that "applies" has to be changed to "applied", because, er, that's how it works.

Because the sentence starts "If I were ..." expresses the fact that "I" cannot actually be in a position to hire her, because I am not the decision-maker in the company she applied for. The sentence is already a hypothetical one.

In short, the original sentence quoted is completely correct.

  • It is a correct sentence, but from a style perspective, I still have a problem with ending a formal sentence with a preposition. It's fine for emails, text messages, and notes to friends but this appears to be a letter of recommendation. I realise this is my personal view and nothing to do with the original query. Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 8:59
  • @BruceMurray I believe that to be another of those rules of faux style invented by the ludicrously class-conscious Victorians, along with not beginning a sentence with a conjunction and not splitting the infinitive. Churchill famously debunked it with "This is [something] up with which I will not put." Commented Jun 23, 2020 at 9:33

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