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“if he were alive, he would be” vs. “would have been”

There is a structure used by native speakers that I often read on social media, referring to people who have passed away, on the day of their anniversary. e.g. “He would have been 60 today.” Shouldn’t it be “He would be 60 today”? Meaning, if he were alive, he would be 60 today.

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There is a good explanation of mixed conditionals here:

If I remember correctly, there is a comment in Michael Lewis's "Lexical Approach" (1993) that in conditional sentence one just uses the appropriate tense and modal. If we construe "would" as a modal subjunctive indicating a counter-factual situation, and "have been" as a perfect infinitive indicating the situation is in the past, then this does not sit well with the time adverb "today".

However, I do believe that in some areas, such as Quebec, usage may be different, so there may be some wiggle-room here.

jayles the unworthy March 23, 2017, 2:09am

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“would have been” is 3d condition wich is unreal past.So that can't be used in this case.The correct version is “He would be 60 today”.
For “would have been” it should be “if he were alive, he would have been 60 yesterday”

Sasha888 April 17, 2017, 3:55am

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If he were alive, he would be 60 today.

If he had been alive, he would have been 60 yesterday.

But it's hard to see what the difference in meaning is.

Percy August 11, 2017, 3:36pm

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I need to understand correct use of " had been". Can I write a sentence in this way:

My dead son had been a good friend of mine. He had been a brave boy who fought courageously. He had been suffering from liver cancer etc...

Zeeshan Butt November 3, 2017, 3:11pm

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