A year ago, a girl told her new boyfriend about her past experience with her ex. For some reason, what he heard hurt his feelings. She has apologized to him countless times, but he still can't get over it. The girl goes to a counsellor to seek advice on how to go forward in their relationship. She tells the counsellor everything, and then the counsellor says to her:

1A. It's now been a year and he's still treating it as if you did it yesterday?

The example came up in a search that I did on this website. The article in which the example originally appeared was on this website (the article is still there, but it's been edited, so the example is no longer there). I would've expected this version with "had done" instead because the counsellor and the girl's boyfriend both know that she didn't do it yesterday:

1B. It's now been a year and he's still treating it as if you'd done it yesterday?

I found a similar example on this website in which the past perfect "had been made" is used under similar circumstances, i.e. everyone knows that the paintings weren't made yesterday:

This exhibition offers a revelatory window into an extraordinarily fertile time in recent art history, yet the paintings don’t seem at all dated. Exuberantly alive to their own possibilities, they feel as fresh as if they had been made yesterday.

Did the author make a mistake, and is version #1B the correct way to say it in this context, or do you think that version #1A is correct? Thank you.

  • Done what? In any case, the grammar is fine.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 22 at 14:55
  • @Lambie A year ago, a girl told her new boyfriend about her past experience with her ex. A lot of time has passed since then, but he's still treating it as if she [had???] told him about it yesterday.
    – prof1589
    Commented Apr 22 at 15:55
  • 1
    He's treating it as if he did it yesterday (present + simple past). versus He was treating it as if he had done it yesterday. (past tense + past perfect).
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 22 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


There's no mistake. Both versions are correct, and have the same meaning.

With unreal conditionals, we shift the tense into the past, so "if he did" becomes "if he had done".

The structure [ "as if..." + unreal ], however, is not an unreal conditional, and doesn't follow these rules. The backshifting is optional.

This is true even in the present. Let's say someone starts talking to someone else about me, right in front of me. I might say,

It's as if I'm not standing right here.
It's as if I wasn't/weren't standing right here.

Both are natural and have the same meaning.

  • 1
    Also, but not part of the answer, I asked some native speakers, and there may be a preference for the past version among BrE speakers, and for the present version among AmE speakers.
    – gotube
    Commented Apr 22 at 21:58

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