If you had caught the train in time, you would have reached there.

If you were caught the train in time, you would have reached there

Which one is correct, and what is the difference between them?

  • 2
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3 Answers 3


It's an If Clause Type 3: if + Past Perfect, main clause with Conditional II.


If I had found her address, I would have sent her an invitation.

  • Which one is more suitable.? Jun 6, 2015 at 4:41
  • By the rules - first.
    – user20238
    Jun 6, 2015 at 4:43
  • If I were you, I would have done it. I read something like this. So, is it right or wrong? Jun 6, 2015 at 4:57
  • You can use 'If I were...(someone)' only when you know that you can't become that someone. 'If...were' is used only when the event you are speaking about is impossible or is definitely not going to happen. For ex: 'If I were a bird, I'd fly and enjoy the freedom around me'. Here, you have to use 'were' and NOT 'was' because you know that you can't be a bird. Jun 6, 2015 at 5:51
  • You can use 'If he were', 'If she were' also, provided the situation is impossible. You cannot use this rule(singular pronoun or noun(he/she/it/I)+plural, past form of 'is'(were) in any other case. Jun 6, 2015 at 5:57

The first sentence is correct. The auxiliary verb "had" is being used in front of participle to indicate a past perfect tense which is what is required here in this type of conditional phrase.

The second sentence is incorrect because when we use the auxiliary verb "were" in front of a participle it must indicate a passive structure (such as "The thieves were caught") and this is clearly not possible here.

  • 1
    This is the only answer that deals with the passive so far and yet it had the lowest score. Voting here is sometimes outright weird.
    – Lucky
    Jun 6, 2015 at 8:24
  • 1
    +1 But your second paragraph should say "in front of a past participle"; were in front of a present participle is a progressive construction. Jun 6, 2015 at 13:12

In this case, the past perfect is used as a completed action before something in the past.

So same rule applies:

"If you had caught the train in time," — 1st action

"you would have reached there." — 2nd action

Hence, 1st sentence

If you had caught the train in time, you would have reached there.

is correct.

As for the 2nd sentence, it is a future subjunctive.

If you were caught the train in time, You would have reached there

Therefore, in this case, your sentence is wrong because of the grammar although it does express a condition but did not meet.

This would be the correct sentence:

If you were to catch the train on time, you would have reached there.

  • No. Were caught is a past passive construction, in which the past-tense auxiliary may indicate non-past "subjunctive" (irrealis) modality but may also indicate past indicative modality. And would have VERBed cannot be used with non-past reference. "If you were to catch the train on time you would reach there." Jun 6, 2015 at 13:18

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