1

Recently, I came across a sentence starting with Would that. By searching over ELL stackexchange I found here that would that is an obsolete way of saying if this was true. Now what came to my mind is that we sometimes start a sentence with had to mean the same thing, e.g.

Had I been a millionaire.

My question is can we use the following types of constructions:

  1. Had that I were a millionaire.
  2. Had it been that I were a millionaire

Does both of them convey the same meaning?

2

No. Start by removing the inversion: "Had I been a millionaire" becomes "(If) I had been a millionaire". "Had that I were a millionaire" would become something like "(If) I had were a millionaire", which doesn't make any good sense. For a conditional phrase beginning with "had", you need to start with a good phrase in the past perfect, and then move the "had" out front. More examples:

"If I had gone to school" => "Had I gone to school,"

"If I had thought it was a good idea" => "Had I thought it was a good idea,"

But "had been" is probably the most common verb to use with this construct.

  • Is this sentence correct: "Had it been that I were a millionaire"? – user31782 Jun 15 '15 at 15:33
  • @user31782 a little awkward in my opinion, but valid. – hobbs Jun 15 '15 at 15:35
  • I've edited my question. Now could you explain in a little detail why it is awkward? – user31782 Jun 15 '15 at 15:37
  • @user31782 because it uses more words than "had I been a millionaire" which says the same thing in a less complicated way. – hobbs Jun 15 '15 at 15:39
  • I am not saying "had I been a millionaire", I am saying for "If it had been that I were a millionaire". – user31782 Jun 23 '15 at 13:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.