I'm currently studying English and I need some advices from US and British users

@SledgePainter is helping me out, but even she is puzzled with some… let’s just say weird sentence construction. For example, in my English textbook there is this weird sentence:

If something dramatic has ever happened to you, how did you react?

This to me and to Sledge sounds wrong. Shouldn’t the question look like this instead:

If something dramatic would ever happened to you, how would you react?

Another thing, and this made me wanting to punch someone, is this nonsense: There is a dialogue between person A and person B about bullying and the task is to correctly fill verbs in brackets in either past simple or present perfect. Person A asks:

Did you know that she was being bullied?

But the same person later on says this:

If the bully doesn’t stop, she’s going to publish their name and report them to police.

That makes literally no sense, as they contradict themselves! How they hell am I suppose to learn English like this?!

Learning English is a pile of misery anyway because there’s grammar rules, but there’s also none at the same time because fuck rules actually lmao

Also, for a conversation to go from


Doesn’t sound that weird. Maybe it sounds weirder with the other half of the conversation?

First sentence suggests it already happened and stopped. The latter suggests it is still ongoing.

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This question makes sense as it is. The alternate question you proposed has a different meaning.

This question is asking about your past experiences. The question you and Sledge proposed is asking about a hypothetical future possibility.

Correct answers to the question posed by the book could look like:

  • Unfortunately, nothing dramatic has ever happened in my life.
  • Once, I was pounced by a Stage 2 Goliath. I was terrified and thought I would certainly die, but I called out to my team for help. They arrived in moments and attacked the monster, saving my life.

But “if” represents possibility. There should have been word “when” instead. At least to me, because “when” and “if” aren’t synonyms.


I understand how it might sound contradictory, but “did you know she was being bullied?”, though technically past tense, doesn’t necessarily mean it has ended. An ongoing event also includes what happened in the past.


Then how it would be written if it did stop happening?


No, “if” because the person asking the question does not know whether anything of the sort has happened to you. “When” would imply that something has actually happened.


Not necessarily…

Asking another person if they knew something was happening would be phrased like that.

“Did you know she was being bullied?” doesn’t necessarily mean it has stopped, it’s just asking whether or not they knew about the bullying.

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The same. :slight_smile:


But how do you I know which tense it is then? That’s the question.

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Most of the time, it’d be phrased the same, but with an added clarification tacked onto the end afterwards saying something like “… but she isn’t anymore” or something

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again



So here is the exercise in my textbook:

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That’s still confusing as hell and doesn’t help me to understand this powerful fuckery.

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I was suppose to translate the text into my language. The problem is that while if/when are antonyms in English, they are synonyms in Slovak. So basically my brain committed suicide while trying to convert this brain teaser.

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I think what’s confusing you is that the act of bullying can be considered both as:

  • one long event (in this case, still potentially ongoing, yet to be determined)
  • a series of individual incidences

Unfortunately, both are valid and a person could use both in the same conversation.


And I would accept such explanation, if the there were two acceptable answers in my textbook. But they are not. So I need to know which clues I am suppose to look for in that text to recognize in which tense they speaking to each other. And let me tell you, if even @SledgePainter, a native US citizen, have problem understanding it as well, that makes me shit my pants, because I need to pass the test. I can’t do it by guessing. I mean, I can, but I didn’t spend 195 € just to fail!

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You see… these kinds of sentence exercises seem to always have a couple of oddly worded sentences even in English textbooks written by native English speaking authors. I hate them lol

Context is key in situations like this.

Context will rule us all

Well, the one sentence “did you know she was being bullied?” is not enough to tell you whether it is ongoing. In fact, the people having the conversation don’t know whether it’s ongoing. It has happened (thus, “she was”). Will it happen again (or, looking at it the other way, will it continue)? Unknown until it happens.

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But until the end, the context made it look like it stopped! My eyeballs popped out when I read what they said at the end! Hell, it made me so confused, I began to question my own sexuality!!!