as if | as though (COMPARISON)

Here are two very similar points at different levels under Clauses and comparatives in the English Grammar Profile.  They are unusual because the B1, the lower level of English ability, contains more complexity and is based more on natural collocation.  Indeed, to adhere to B2 definitions, one must avoid what vocabulary collocates most naturally.

EGP B2 Point 90 is defined as:

‘as if’ or ‘as though’ + finite clause to introduce a second clause as a comparison.

EGP B1 Point 70 is defined as:

verbs of the senses + ‘as if’ or ‘as though’ + finite clause.


These grammar points are extended by PEARSON GSE 71 B2+

‘as if/as though’ with the past perfect to refer to hypothetical (counterfactual) circumstances in the past.
complement clause (equivalent to third conditional)

‘as if/as though’ with the past simple to refer to hypothetical or counterfactual circumstances.
complement clause (equivalent to second conditional)

EXPERT EXAMPLES:

It was as though time had stopped.

TED

 

But it was as if this man in this alley had offered me a lifeline.

TED


A search in COCA for:

_V as if|though * had _VVN

1 WAS AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED 9
2 ACTING AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED 8
3 ACTED AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED 6
4 ACT AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED 6
5 ACT AS IF NOTHING HAD CHANGED 5


AS THOUGH

we can get collocates 4 spaces to left and right of ‘as though’ on iWeb:

1 WERE (VBDR ) 26542 *(this is noticeably found as a subjunctive form in many examples)


2 SEEMS (VVZ ) 13883 (this is already B2 for range of linking verbs)

3 FEEL (VV0 ) 13566
4 LOOKS (VVZ ) 10157
5 FEEL (VVI ) 9908
6 FELT (VVD ) 5286
7 FEELS (VVZ ) 4847
8 APPEARS (VVZ ) 4516
9 SEEM (VVI ) 3620
10 LOOKED (VVD ) 3612

It becomes quite obvious that ‘as though’ naturally comes with the sense verbs.

Yet we want to find more than pronouns so a search for nouns one to the right gives us:

gives us ‘nature, death and heaven’ that are not basic vocabulary.

 

AS IF

Sadly, iWeb does not allow a collocate search for ‘as if’ because there are just too many.

Unsurprising: as if _n *
1 AS IF PEOPLE ARE 210
2 AS IF THINGS ARE 130
3 AS IF THINGS WERE 113
4 AS IF LIFE IS 95
5 AS IF PEOPLE WERE 91
6 AS IF TIME HAS 88

as if * *
1 AS IF THEY WERE 31228
2 AS IF IT WERE 31105
3 AS IF IT WAS 15239
4 AS IF YOU WERE 14496
5 AS IF THEY ARE 12255

These results are bit more specific:
as if * _vv*


1 AS IF TO SAY 4743 ( this structure is much higher than B2)

2 AS IF NOTHING HAPPENED 924 + extra collocates:

1 AWAY (RL ) 22


2 CONTINUE (VVI ) 17
3 CONTINUES (VVZ ) 16
4 ACT (VVI ) 16
5 ACT (VV0_NN1 ) 14
6 CONTINUE (VV0 ) 14
7 SUSPICIOUS (JJ ) 13
8 FORGOTTEN (VVN ) 13
9 ACTED (VVD ) 12
10 LIVES (NN2 ) 11

 

3 AS IF TO PROVE 568

4 AS IF YOU NEEDED 526


5 AS IF YOU NEED 485

6 AS IF TO MAKE 484

7 AS IF WE NEEDED 455
8 AS IF HE KNEW 430
9 AS IF IT CAME 424
10 AS IF HE WANTED 356
11 AS IF THEY KNOW 337
12 AS IF THEY KNEW 329
13 AS IF YOU KNOW 278
14 AS IF YOU WANT 260
15 AS IF I NEEDED 260
16 AS IF IT HAPPENED 249
17 AS IF THEY CAME 247

18 AS IF TO SUGGEST 238
19 AS IF TO SHOW 237

20 AS IF THEY WANT 214