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First, here's a material that made me keep thinking about this issue in the first place.

http://www.grammaring.com/as-if-as-though

I felt as if I had been hit by a hammer.

I wasn't hit by a hammer, but I had a headache like a person who was hit by a hammer.

I felt as if I was hit by a hammer.

I was hit by something, but I'm not sure what exactly hit my head. Seeing as there was a hammer when I first walked in, I guess it was a hammer that hit my head.

Am I right to think this way? I'm really want to get used to using 'as if' naturally.

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  • You might be interested in the info in the 2002 CGEL, in the section "As if and as though" on pages 1151-4. Their example [43.ii] on pages 1153-4 might especially interest you. When the matrix clause is headed by a past-tense clause, then, when the subordinate clause involves a past-perfect construction, it is often possible that the perfect can be used for either backshift or for past time (or for modal remoteness) and it can sometimes be unclear or ambiguous as to which it is. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 4:35
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    possible duplicate of "As if he knows" vs "As if he knew"
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 10:10

2 Answers 2

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The hypothetical "as if" in both examples is sufficient to imply that it might not have actually been a hammer.

But if you are pretty sure it was a hammer, don't use "felt as if"

"I thought {a/the} hammer had hit me."
or "I thought I had been hit by {a/the} hammer." (something hit you, and you believed it was a hammer —THE hammer, if you knew there was one in the room)

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  • I am really sorry brian, I had a tough time on campus and that's why I couldn't answer you. Anyway, I hope you don't get worked up by my carelessness. Sorry..!
    – jihoon
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 10:50
  • I wish you a good day!
    – jihoon
    Commented Mar 2, 2015 at 10:52
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Your usage of as if is correct. Both of these constructions are subjunctive mood and grammatically correct. In casual usage, there's no practical difference; people will understand it the same either way. Specifically, both sentences will be assumed to be a qualitative description of the experience - how it felt to you; the first option you mention - rather than speculation on what actually happened (the second option).

I was hit by something, but I'm not sure what exactly hit my head. Seeing as there was a hammer when I first walked in, I guess it was a hammer that hit my head.

If you mean this, use I thought the hammer had hit me. Changing the primary verb felt to thought (along with removing some clausal modifiers) alters the meaning from a description of the experience to a supposition regarding what actually happened.

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