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If it was not for Vivian, the conference wouldn't be going ahead.

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If it hadn't been for Dad, I wouldn't have gone to college.

I know the second sentence indicates a time in the past but what about the first sentence?

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  • The first sentence is talking about the non-past. Going ahead can mean continuing or beginning. Jul 16 '16 at 19:53
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If it was not for Vivian, the conference wouldn't be going ahead.

This means that Vivian performed an action or some actions in the past, which allowed the conference to go forward.

The conference is either currently happening or happening in the future.

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    Vivian is actually performing her action in the present. If it was not for Vivian reserving the buses every day, the conference wouldn't be going ahead. If her actions were in the past, had not been for Vivian would be used. Jul 17 '16 at 2:28

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