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Example:

Even if she was an astonomer, it would have been impossible for her to predict that. There are too many variables to handle—even for the most powerful computer. Not only it would have had to include every particle in the universe, but also how they would affect each other.

The whole paragraph is an hypothetical statement. So I thought I should use would. Is it correct my use of would have had?

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    There were too many variables... Not only would it have had... – Joe Dark Nov 16 '14 at 9:59
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Even if she was an astonomer, it would have been impossible for her to predict that. There are too many variables to handle—even for the most powerful computer. Not only it would have had to include every particle in the universe, but also how they would affect each other.
.

In the first sentence, there are two possibilities:

1. Even if she had been an astronomer, it would have been impossible for her ...

2. Even if she was/were an astronomer, it would have been impossible for her ...

In both sentences, the speaker is talking of a past counterfactual situation - the possibility of her being able to predict something. In both sentences, it is implied that it is impossible for astronomers to predict such things.

In #1, the speaker is suggesting the counterfactual past possibility of 'she' being an astronomer at a particular past time. Even that profession (at that time) would not have changed her ability (at that time) to predict whatever it is. Your sentence is therefore possible.

In #2, the speaker is suggesting the counterfactual present possibility of 'she' being an astronomer now (and in the past and future). Even that profession (in general time) would not have changed her ability (at a particular past time) to predict whatever it is.

Your second sentence is fine as it stands - there are too many variables ... in such situations. You could also say There were too many variables ... at that past time

Your third sentence begins with a negative expression, Not only, and therefore S-V inversion is required: Not only would it have ...

  • +1 I tried starting with "Even if she were... but came to grief not long after; I couldn't keep it all pointing in the right direction – Tetsujin Nov 16 '14 at 11:20
  • @Tetsujin. It is perhaps clearer in "Even if he were rich, I wouldn't have let him pay for everything yesterday". – tunny Nov 16 '14 at 11:26
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    yes, nice one, thanks. You may have noticed I tend to fly English by the seat of my pants. I know what a subjunctive is, but not necessarily all the rules that allow it to stay in shape through the rest of the sentence ;-) – Tetsujin Nov 16 '14 at 11:28
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    I'm not convinced #2 with subjunctive were is explicitly "counterfactual past possibility". If I say "Even if you were the best doctor in the world, you couldn't have saved him" I wouldn't be thinking of it in terms of if you had been the best doctor [at the time when you were unsuccessfully trying to save him]. I see it as more "timeless irrealis". – FumbleFingers Nov 16 '14 at 12:48
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    It vwas a fine point (I'd upvoted anyway). I just felt that identifying the past perfect in #1 as "present", and subjunctive/simple past in #2 as "past" wasn't completely right, because in many ways they're both just "timeless" references to a state that never was, isn't now, and probably never will be (except #1 is a sort of "timeless in the past"). – FumbleFingers Nov 16 '14 at 14:25
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Even if she was an astronomer,

"Even had she been an astronomer...

handle—even

dash separated by spaces, otherwise it looks like a hyphen "..handle — even.."

how they would affect each other.

Simplest might be "how they affected.." otherwise it's getting a bit strained

and, as Joe said -

There were too many variables...

&

Not only would it have had..

I think there's a danger in shifting tenses, that even the past hypothetical beginning of "Even if she had been" followed by the idea that her attempt to calculate this data was at that point in her future - let alone that the number of variables is a continuing idea - is quickly going to lead to difficulty in construction. Keeping the entire sentence in the past just makes it easier to follow.

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Yes. The sentence you gave is correct. However, 'Not only would it have had to include every particle--' would read more smoothly.

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