Example 1

A: Why is he working out so hard?

B: It is probably because somebody told him that he had a very good physique.

Example 2

A: Why is he smiling?

B: I don't know. He is smiling probably because he met a girl who told him that he had a very good physique.

The reasons (because-clauses) are my guesses, so they can be imaginary.

So this got me to think: Does this kind of structure have anything to do with a second or third conditional structure or are they just normal past tense?

Are parts in bold correct?

  • 2
    The parts in bold are correct, but I'm confused as to why you think they might not be.
    – PRL75
    Oct 31, 2022 at 12:05

1 Answer 1


There's nothing conditional in your example.

"Told" and "met" are in the past because they happened in the past.

"Had" is in the past because it's indirect speech. In indirect speech, we often backshift the verb tenses that were originally said to indicate that you're not asserting any of this to be true, just reflecting what someone else said.

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