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In this sentence, should I use hit or hits?

I threw a small stone, then I was worried about a car with a driver inside; if the stone hit the car, I would be miserable.

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  • 2
    If you know that the stone did not in fact hit the car, then the most plausible answer is ...if the stone had hit... . You may have learned this as the third conditional. That said, I'm voting for migration to English language Learners where the question is a better fit.
    – Shoe
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 8:06
  • You should edit the question to say why you think "hit" or "hits" and explain what you're trying to do. Also maybe relevant is whether you're aiming for casual speech or something in formal English with subjunctives and the like, because what I'd say normally may not match the grammatical construction you seem to want to use.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 9:04
  • This contains the potential for a difficult elision [or omission]. One could easily say 'hit' whilst eliding/omitting 'had'. The only certainty is it would never be 'hits'. Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 12:35
  • @gone fishin' again. There's a special conditional variant, popular among football pundits, along the lines of "If Salah hits the ball harder, the goalkeeper doesn't save it."
    – Shoe
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 14:13
  • @Shoe If I use "had hit" then instead of "I would be miserable," should I use "I would have been miserable"?
    – dsd
    Commented Jun 22, 2022 at 4:16

3 Answers 3

1

Hit

What happened was, the "had" was omitted. The sentence should've been "if the stone had hit", or "had the stone hit"

the use of "s" suffix (I forgot the exact term for that) for he/she/it is specifically only for present tense.

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You are talking about hitting the car in the past and being miserable in the present/future so usual versions would be:

  • If the stone had hit the car (in the past and it's unlikely), I would be miserable (in the present/future and it's unlikely)

  • If the stone hit the car (in the past and it's possible), I will be miserable (in the future and it's possible)

would have + past participle is replaced by past perfect in subordinate clauses

0

There are a couple of ways to look at this, to put into context.

(1) Events In Sequence :: [ XX throw stone(s) XX ] [ very short time gap ] [ YY worrying about it YY ] [ short time gap ] [ ZZ stone(s) hitting or missing the car ZZ ]

At moment YY, you could say some something like this:

(1A) I threw a small stone, then I was worried about a car with a driver inside; if the stone hits the car, I would be miserable.

(1B) I threw some small stones, then I was worried about a car with a driver inside; if the stones hit the car, I would be miserable.

This is the Subject Verb Agreement Concept : Singular Verb with Singular Subject ; Plural Verb with Plural Subject.

(2) Events In Sequence :: [ XX throw stone(s) XX ] [ short time gap ] [ YY stone missing the car YY ] [ very long time gap ] [ ZZ talking about it now ZZ ]

Eg, XX was when you were a kid; ZZ is now you talking to a "Consultant".

At moment ZZ, you could say some something like this:

(2A) This occurred ages ago, when I was a kid. I threw a small stone, then I was worried about a car with a driver inside; if the stone had hit the car, I would have been (and would still be) miserable; luckily, the stone missed.

(2B) This occurred ages ago, when I was a kid. I threw some small stones, then I was worried about a car with a driver inside; if the stones had hit the car, I would have been (and would still be) miserable; luckily, the stones missed.

Even here, we have the Subject Verb Agreement Concept, but in the Past Tense, the verb did not change in this case.

Check :
https://study.com/academy/lesson/verb-tense-subject-verb-agreement.html

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