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While I read an article, I came across the following expression that I can't still understand.

"If the wind picked up real bad to go in the bathroom and close the door, I had been so out of touch with the world around me that I hadn't seen any TV or read any newspapers."

If you go over above sentence, you can find that the past tense is used in If-clause and the past perfect tense is used in the main clause. Is there anyone who explains why the tense is different in both clauses in detail. Due to a different tense, I can't make a sense completely the sentence.

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    The second part of the sentence (after the comma) makes sense as a complete statement. What the first part is about is hard to know. Maybe the writer was trying to say: **If the wind picked up real bad, (I had to/I would have to) go into the bathroom and close the door. ** That section would really be a separate sentence on its own. Given that modification, the tense structure is completely idiomatic. Aug 21, 2021 at 14:03
  • You should give the full text as what you quote is meaningless.
    – mdewey
    Aug 22, 2021 at 14:40
  • The sentence makes no sense.
    – Lambie
    Sep 30, 2022 at 16:12

1 Answer 1

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Googling the original text, it seems you omitted the full grammatical sentences. Here's the original (probably):

The owner told me to stay in, and if the wind picked up real bad to go in the bathroom and close the door. I had been so out of touch with the world around me that I hadn’t seen any TV or read any newspapers.

The first verb "picked up" is simple past.

When the owner actually spoke, he presumably said "if the wind picks up...", using the present tense. When shifting the story into the past, we use the past tense.

The next verb "had been so out of touch" is past perfect, indicating that even earlier in the story, the narrator had been out of touch. It means something a bit like "before the before", "the day before yesterday". Double past.

You can combine verb tenses when speaking, and say "X will happen (future), but Y already happened (past), and Z is happening now (present)". That's not a mistake. Every verb, every phrase can potentially use a different tense, as long as the facts don't contradict each other in an illogical way.

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  • If my wind picks up real bad, I always go in the bathroom and close the door, out of kindness to the rest of the household!
    – WS2
    May 30, 2022 at 7:32

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