Some Clarification

by abdou

Hi Diana,

I saw this sentence
"What if you had to work today", I would like you to help me to understand why this sentence is made like this.

I think it should be like this
"What if you have to work today"

Many thanks
Hi Abdou, In this case both sentences are correct but they mean or focus on slightly different things.

The first example,
"What if you had to work today?"

…is talking about a totally hypothetical instance. It's like saying to someone; imagine if you had to work today. That would horrible. There isn't a possibility of you working, but you are imagining a hypothetical situation.

Your example,
"What if you have to work today?"

…is talking about the same idea (possibly working) but it is focusing the possibility of you having to work that day (in the future). In this example you working is a possibility, where as in the first example it is just a hypothetical idea.

I hope that clears up the difference for you.

The first is hypothetical where as your example refers to a real possibility of working.

Have a great day!

Comments for Some Clarification

Click here to add your own comments

Jun 07, 2009
this was a national English test's title.
by: Riadh

This was the title for the national 9th grade english test. It confused a lot of students. I had someone who asked me and I said it was right the way it was, but I couldn't explain it the way you did Diana. Thank you very much.
You are very welcome Riadh. I'm glad to help! :) - Diana

Click here to add your own comments

Return to ask your grammar questions here..

Still looking?  Search the site for exactly what you need using the site search box below.

Happy exploring!

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Discover these Amazing ESL Materials!

It's English Time! English Express! 5 Simple Steps to Better Writing! English Harmony 2.0! Pronunciation Power!
Effortless English! Best Accent Training! Ola Zur! English Grammar Revolution! English Success

Sign-up For The Learn English Newsletter

Your E-mail Address
Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Learn English Newsletter.