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I have read this sentence in a Indian newspaper article

If he was angry, then would he have spoken to me.

What is the difference in meaning if we change the sentence like below

If he had been angry, then would he have spoken to me.

What is the difference in meaning between these two sentences??

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    Then would he sounds old-fashioned to my British ears, but maybe it's still current in Indian English? If he had been angry, then he would... is correct for the conditional. If he was angry is less correct, but understandable. Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 8:23

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First off, I'm going to assume that both of these are actually questions, because you typed "would he" and not "he would" in your examples.

If he was angry, then would he have spoken to me?

If he had been angry, then would he have spoken to me?

If they are not questions, the word order should be "he would" in these sentences.

That said, the key difference here is when he may have been angry.

"Was" implies you are talking about whether or not he was angry at the time he could have spoken to you.

"Had been" implies you are talking about whether or not he was angry for some amount of time, and the time period he might have been angry occured before or up until the time he could have spoken to you.

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  • Neat! It's much easier to see that (potential, but not "inevitable") nuance of difference if we assume the examples are questions. Commented Jun 12, 2021 at 16:36

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