Supposing you're hiding from some intrusive relative, "If he knew where we are, he would be here by now"

I think the part "where you are" is beyond the hypothetical scope, so I don't need to say "...where we were"? Am I right?

This answer here seems to agree with me.

  • 1
    What part of that answer agrees with you? Too confusing to figure out.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 12 at 20:47
  • It says "the verb form in the clause representing the speech will depend on whether the hypothetical "scopes" over the subordinate clause.", so I guess this is the case in my example. Right?
    – Let
    Commented Jan 12 at 21:10
  • The speaker believes that "he" does not know where they are. So the verb in the if clause is backshifted to knew and the subordinate clause will have were. were in this particular example is far more common than are, at least in American English. This isn't reported speech but a counterfactual scenario.
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 12 at 22:20
  • @TimR but "his" knowing is the only thing that is counterfactual, our being in a particular place is factual. So, why change the factual "where we are" to "where we were"?
    – Let
    Commented Jan 13 at 7:49
  • 2
    @Let Why? I suppose it's because "our" actual location is filtered through his lack of knowledge of it. But it's what people say. Cf. If he knew what my phone number was, he would call me. vs Since he knows what my phone number is, I expect him to call.
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 13 at 10:21


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