Learn English – “Before it was too late” vs. “before it would be too late”


What is the difference between the sentences below?

  1. Mary decided to get pregnant before it was too late.
  2. Mary decided to get pregnant before it would be too late.

Best Answer

Regarding 1)

  • This is colloquial, i.e. what native speakers would say. Use this one.
  • The commenter's suggestion "before it were too late" isn't necessary.

Regarding 2)

  • I can't imagine a scenario where that sentence would be appropriate. Adding 'would' turns the sentence into a conditional, but the first half ("Mary decided to get pregnant") is awkward next to this conditional, and has no 'if' (or equatable) statement. If there is to be a conditional in this part of the story, split it into a new sentence.
  • The commenter's suggestion for "it would have been" is correct, given the sentence is written in the past tense.