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a. I thought he would have been sad before I entered the room and seeing me would make him happy. Actually, he was happy and seeing me made him sad.

b. I thought he would have felt sad before I entered the room and seeing me would make him happy. Actually, he was happy and seeing me made him sad.

c. I thought he would have been feeling sad before I entered the room and seeing me would make him happy. Actually, he was happy and seeing me made him sad.

d. I thought he would be sad before I entered the room and seeing me would make him happy. Actually, he was happy and seeing me made him sad.

I think (d) is the best and (c) is grammatically correct, but convoluted. Is that correct?

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  • 1
    What happens if you — instead of I thought ... — use the verb I expected ...? Will that open up new possibilities?
    – Levente
    Jan 21, 2023 at 12:44
  • 1
    They're all syntactically valid, but stylistically the use of "conditional" modal auxiliary would in the first three is awful. Stick with the last one. Jan 21, 2023 at 12:46

1 Answer 1

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Each of example sentences a, b, c, and d is grammatically valid. Each is reasonably understandable by a fluent speaker. However the construction "* I thought he would have* used in a thru c is in my view awkward, at least in this context. I would avoid it. d however, is in my view a bit confusing as to whether it is referring to a past event or not. I would be inclined to rewrite this into something more like:

e. I expected him to be sad before I entered the room and that seeing me would make him happy. Actually, he was happy and seeing me made him sad.

This expresses the same thought as the examples. I think it is clearer. Other versions are quite possible. There is no one "correct" or "best" version.

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