I would have...
When talking about something that didn't happen in the past, many
English speakers use the conditional perfect (if I would have done) when
they should be using the past perfect (if I had done).
For example, you find out that your brother saw a movie yesterday. You
would have liked to see it too, but you hadn't known he was going. To
express this, you can use an if - then clause. The
correct way to say this is with the past perfect in the "if" clause, and
the conditional perfect in the "then" clause:
If I had known you were going to the movies, [then] I would have gone
The conditional perfect can only go in the "then" clause - it is
grammatically incorrect to use
the conditional perfect in the "if" clause:
xxx If I would have known you were going to the movies,
I would have gone too. xxx
If I had gotten paid, we could have traveled together.
xxx If I would have gotten paid, we could have traveled
If you had asked me, I could have helped you.
xxx If you would have asked me, I could have helped you. xxx
The same mistake occurs with the verb "wish." You can't use the conditional
perfect when wishing something had happened - you again need the past
I wish I had known.
xxx I wish I would have known. xxx
I wish you had told me.
xxx I wish you would have told me. xxx
We wish they had been honest.
xxx We wish they would have been honest. xxx
Laura K. Lawless All rights reserved.
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