As if & As Though Grammar Rules

As if & As Though Grammar Rules

As if and as though are used as conjunctions in sentences. We use as if and as though to make comparisons. They have a similar meaning. We use as if and as though to talk about an imaginary situation or a situation that may not be true but that is likely or possible. As if is more common than as though. Definition from (Cambridge Dictionary)

  • She spoke to me as if/as though she knew me, but I had never met her before.
  • It looks as if/as though it is going to rain.
  • She cried as if/as though she was dying.

As if & As Though Grammar Rules

Using as if and as though in different Tenses

After as if and as though we often use a past tense with present meaning. This shows that the comparison is unreal. A present tense, on the other hand, shows that we are talking about real and possible situations.

  • Examples:
  • She talks as if/as though she knows everything. (Perhaps she knows everything.)
  • She talks as if/as though she knew everything. (But she doesn’t.)
  • He looks as if/as though he knows the answer. (Perhaps he knows the answer.)
  • He looks as if/as though he knew the answer. (but he doesn’t know or we don’t know whether he knows or not)

If we put the verb preceding as if/as though into the past tense, the present simple knows changes into past simple, whereas the past subjunctive knew stays the same.


  • He looked as if he knew the answer. (Consequently, the meaning of this sentence (whether he knew the answer or not) can only be deduced from the context.)

The past perfect subjunctive after as if/as though is used to refer to an unreal past situation. if the situation is true, we use a real tense to express past time.

  • He seems as if he hadn’t slept for days. (it seems that he hasn’t slept for days, but he (probably) has or we don’t know whether he has or not)
  • He seems as if he hasn’t slept for days. (he hasn’t slept for days)

When the main clause is in the past tense, we do not use past perfect after as if/as though to show that comparison is unreal. Instead, we use simple past in both clauses.


  • He looked as if/as though he knew everything, but he didn’t. (NOT She looked as if/as though she had known everything.)

Were instead of was

In an informal style, were is used instead of was in an unreal comparison. This is normal in American English.

  • He looks as if he was rich. OR He looks as if he were rich.
  • Future
  • It looks as if/as though it is going to rain.
  • We took an umbrella because it looked as if/as though it is going to rain.
  • I’ve got so much work it looks as if/as though I’ll have to stay at home this evening.

Conclusion: Please feel free to ask your questions about as if & as though grammar rules and write your feedback using the comment section below.

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Active and Passive Voice of Conditional Clauses


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