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I tried to figure out how to say a sentence like this in the past tense:

I think that if he does that, he will be late to the party.

I want to write it in the past tense but I'm not sure how. I thought of something like that:

I thought that if he did that, he would be late to the party.

Could anyone help me with this?

  • At least for me this is a very interesting question, and one I don't think I know the exact correct answer to; largely because you're combining tense with mood. "I think" -> "I thought" converts it to the past tense, but the question is how do you keep the identical mood? "... if he does that, he will ..." is more "positive" than "... if he did that, he would..." to me. But, I think converting it to "... if he had done that, he would have been ..." is very messy, and the way you put it in the question "sounds" right. – Joe Oct 21 '14 at 14:30
  • "If I had done that, he would have..." isn't good because it means that he did not do that. I want to say that at the time I was thinking, I didn't know if he would be late to the party or not and I thought it was possible that he would do that, like "If he does that... he will" implies. – user9940 Oct 21 '14 at 17:14
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Your second sentence is great. I thought that if he did that, he would be late to the party.

"Last night I thought that if he did that, he would be late to the party."

Adding in a time frame can help you determine the tense.

This expresses the idea that "you", sometime in the past, had thought about the consequences of the other persons actions, and concluded he would be late to the party.

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I think either could be OK, depending on the context.

I thought that if he did that, he would be late to the party.

is the best phrase in general, and more likely used as an afterthought. For example:

I thought that was what you would do.

But suppose you tell me you are going to work late. Then I say to my friend:

I think that if he does that, he will be late to the party.

Because it refers to a specific event, this form is OK.

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