"If you ____ to me, you ____ what I was trying to say."



If you ____ to me, you ____ what I was trying to say.

A) had been listening / would have understood
B) were listening / would have understood
C) had been listening / would understand
D) listened / will understand
E) listen / will understand

I'm confused which option is true. Could anyone explain me every option whether it is true or not?


Posted 2015-10-08T11:55:07.393

Reputation: 473

Option (B) looks better to me. – Maulik V – 2015-10-08T12:13:28.610

@Bora By "which option is true", do you mean "which answer the exercise wants", or do you mean you want each and every answer choice to be discussed whether it's possible to use, and in what occasion? (The latter is a much more difficult question.) – Damkerng T. – 2015-10-08T12:53:39.690

@DamkerngT. Yes, I want every options to be discussed. Because every answer choice looks fine to me. – Bora – 2015-10-08T13:03:49.080

@Bora only (A), or (E) is possible to me, and it's obvious to me that the exercise wants (A). (B) or (C) may be possible in some dialects but neither makes much sense to me (I still can't come up with a good context for them). (D) is just odd. Note that I'm a non-native speaker, by the way. – Damkerng T. – 2015-10-08T13:11:28.157

@DamkerngT. Can I say "If you listen to me, you will understand what I was trying to say." regardless of the answer of the question? – Bora – 2015-10-08T13:21:36.250

It sounds fine to me, but keep in mind that its meaning is completely different from (A). – Damkerng T. – 2015-10-08T13:25:47.863

@DamkerngT. Thanks. Lastly, is it also possible to say "If you listened to me, you would have understood what I was trying to say."? – Bora – 2015-10-08T13:30:25.877

@Bora It sounds like a tense clash to me (i.e. not good English). Having said that, the little devil on my shoulder keeps whispering, 'It may be possible, if you think hard enough." Yet I still can't think of a good context that makes it sound okay. – Damkerng T. – 2015-10-08T13:36:24.760



A) Correct. Note that it puts the misunderstanding in the past

B) Incorrect. Corrected: were listening / understand (if you [past tense], then you [present tense])

C) Correct. Note that its misunderstanding continues into the present

D) Incorrect. Corrected: listened / understand

E) Correct. Note that it moves into the future: you did misunderstand (past), but if you listen now (present) you will understand (future) what I was trying to say previously.

G. Ann - SonarSource Team

Posted 2015-10-08T11:55:07.393

Reputation: 3 371

Did you miss the fact that in the second clause the speaker says "what I *was* trying to say" (Past Continuous)? I think it eliminates 'E' as valid at all. – Victor Bazarov – 2015-10-08T14:01:44.177

1I did not, @VictorBazarov: "If you listen, you will understand what I was trying to say (before)." I.e. Listen to me now, and I will clear up your misconceptions about what I said earlier. – G. Ann - SonarSource Team – 2015-10-08T14:03:54.623

Nice! I also vacillated about (E). – CowperKettle – 2015-10-08T14:17:32.917