"If we were at home, it would not have rained."
Translation:Als we thuis waren, zou het niet hebben geregend.
The logic of this sentence escapes me:
If we were at home [NOW], it would not have rained [IN THE PAST]
I'd usually suspect a bad translation when a sentence plays fast and loose with causality like this, but the Dutch version conveys exactly the same twisted meaning, right?
Precisely. I never said the sentence is not correct - it clearly is grammatically correct - it's just that it defies causality.
If we'd been at home, it would not have rained. / Als wij thuis waren geweest, zou het niet hebben geregend.
- fine: being at home in the past causes there not to be any rain in the past.
If we were at home, it would not be raining. / Als wij thuis waren, zou het niet regenen.
- fine: being at home in the present causes there to be no rain in the present.
If we were at home, it would not have rained / Als wij thuis waren, zou het niet hebben geregend.
- illogical: being at home in the present causes there to be no rain in the past.
Your argument essentially boils down to the fact that the clause isn't perfect, i.e., the it uses the simple past subjunctive form rather than the pluperfect subjunctive form. But that's not defying causality. To adjust what you wrote:
> If we were at home [IN THE PAST], it would not have rained [IN THE PAST].
That's a perfectly valid use of the simple past subjunctive. It's positing an ongoing state in the past whose occurrence is important rather than the state itself, which would have caused some even in the past (indicated with the present perfect in the main clause) not to have happened.
To give another example, both of these are valid ways of saying the same thing:
> If you were here [when it happened], you would have seen it.
> If you had been here [when it happened], you would have seen it.
Both are valid ways of saying the same thing, but the latter emphasises state while the former emphasises occurrence.
Ok, I see where you're coming from, and now I see how that sentence can make sense, but only in the right context (which escaped me seeing only that one sentence): implying a continuing state reaching into the present that has a causal effect on something in the past can only work if the timescale the state occurs on is larger than the timescale associated with the event or time it affects. I.e.
We're on holiday in Scotland. It rained today. If we were at home, it would not have rained.
- logically conceivable, even if, strictly speaking, wrong.
We're in the office. It rained this morning. If we were at home, it would not have rained.
- highly dubious. doesn't make sense without further clarification.
We're at the shops. It rained on Friday. If we were at home, it would not have rained.
- patent nonsense.
But to come back to my original doubt, it is also true for the Dutch sentence that als wij thuis waren manifestly takes place in the (counterfactual) present, right? (With context-dependent leakage into adjacent tenses possible)
Reordering the sentence like this: "Als we thuis waren zou het niet geregend hebben" should be a valid answer as well.
What does it matter if I put 'geregend' in front of 'hebben'??? I mean, I live in Belgium for about 10 years, and yeah, there are situations when you can't put one word before another, but here, to me it looks like I can..
Could someone please explain me the grammatical differences between the following two (accepted) sentences: "Als wij thuis waren had het niet geregend" and "Als wij thuis waren zou het niet hebben geregend"