"On other occasions she said — and I found her to be believable having worked with so many domestic violence victims — that if she did not make him look good to the Netflix documentarians, well, it was basically 'do it, or else.' I've met women who would practically do anything than take another beating. It really struck me that she chose to eat rat poison just so she could get away from him and go to the hospital."

Source: http://perezhilton.com/2016-01-18-making-a-murderer-nancy-grace-steven-avery-guilty/?from=post#.VwKRmXqKw-c

I have two problems with the bold part of the above sentence both. Firstly it confuses me that although this sentence starts as the conditional clause, in its second part is "would" missing. The pattern for the conditional clause is just partial. So is it actually the conditional clause? The second thing that I am puzzled about is the fact that the part is written just in the past tense. In the documentary she spoke about SA very good, she believed in his innocenece and so on. This documentary is a more distant past, preceding the past in which her interview with Nancy Grace occured. So why not "if she had not made him look good…?"

P. S. I hope that I understand this part of the sentence properly: woman was forced to speak about Steven Avery in a good way because he was scared of him. If she had not done it, she would have suffered the consequences.

  • 1
    Is this a transcription of a direct quote? If so, remember that spoken English is more flexible than written English. If it's spoken, there are probably a bunch of pauses around the "well" and probably a big sigh.
    – Catija
    Apr 4, 2016 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


Let's take the core of that sentence out and see what it looks like:

She said that if she did not make him look good to the Netflix documentarians...

Yes, the would is missing, but she never finished the sentence. She was probably contemplating something like:

he would have beaten me.

She decided not to finish the sentence, and instead explained the consequences in a different way: grammatically correct on its own, but not in accord with the sentence she failed to finish.

well, it was basically "do it, or else".

This is the journalist reporting what the victim said about what Avery said to her, so it's reported reported speech, which complicates matters a little. Remember that she was talking about a future consequence of a past event. Here are direct speech and reported speech examples of a similar conversation:

If you don't want it, throw it away.

She told me that if I didn't want it I could throw it way.

Note that there is no had not, just simple didn't.

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