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Please consider the following exercise:

The sky is so red, it looks as it if (be) ... on fire.

What verb do must I put at that empty place please? And why?
And what about if the exercise were this:

The sky is so red, it looks as if it (be) ... on fire.

This is an exercise from book English Grammar Digest by Trudy Aronson. And that book has written first version! I used had been. Is it correct please?

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    Be is the basic form of the verb. Take a list of all other forms of this verb (be, is, are, were, was..), and select the form you think fits the sentence best. Tell to us what's your best guess (or guesses), and we'll help. – CowperKettle Feb 3 '15 at 9:11
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    the first version is either a typo or just plain wrong. The second version is fine. To do your homework for you, the answer is… 'is' – Tetsujin Feb 3 '15 at 9:12
  • Thanks for the comments. This is an exercise from book English Grammar Digest by Trudy Aronson. And that book has written first version! I used had been. Is it correct please? – fly hipy Feb 3 '15 at 9:19
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    You are right, there is a typo in your textbook: it should be "as if it". As to your pick of the answer, I guess had been is incorrect. I would choose is or were. – CowperKettle Feb 3 '15 at 9:41
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    @CopperKettle, depending on the context and the tenses used had been might be correct. – Lucian Sava Feb 3 '15 at 10:07
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The sky was so red (that) it looks as it if (be) on fire.

The sky was so red (that) it looks as if it (be) on fire.

First, the correct phrase is "as if", not as it if.

Second, the clause beginning with "as if" expresses a nonfactual or unreal situation. So the phrase as if must follow a verb in the subjunctive. The correct sentence is as follows:

"The sky is so red (that) it looks as if it were on fire".

As for the use of "as if it had been", I think it doesn't fit in the sentence as it will refer to an unreal action in the past whereas "as if it were" refers to an unreal situation in the present.

  • Nonfactual or unreal situation is the OP’s proposition too. What do you think? – Lucian Sava Feb 3 '15 at 10:14

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