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I want to clarify this:

According to this site:

"Would have + past participle" has 2 uses:

1: Part of the third conditional.

If I had had enough money, I would have bought a car (but I didn't have enough money, so I didn't buy a car).

If you had woken up early, you wouldn't have missed the train.

2: Because 'would' (and will) can also be used to show if you want to do something or not (volition), we can also use would have + past participle to talk about something you wanted to do but didn't. This is very similar to the third conditional, but we don't need an 'if clause'.

I would have gone to the party, but I was really busy. (= I wanted to go to the party, but I didn't because I was busy. If I hadn't been so busy, I would have gone to the party.)

I would have called you, but I didn't know your number. (= I wanted to call you but I didn't know your number, so I didn't call you.)

A: Nobody volunteered to help us with the fair

B: I would have helped you. I didn't know you needed help. (= If I had known that you needed help, I would have helped you.)

So, according to the site, "Would have + PP" or "Would not have + PP" only refers to unreal events.

My question is that

Does "Would have + PP" or "Would not have + PP" also refer to real events?

Or, Does "Would have + PP" or "Would not have + PP" only refer to unreal events?

So, ex, "I would have called you" or "I wouldn't have called you" always refer to unreal events, that is it only refers to "I didn't call you" or "I called you" respectively, right?

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  • No that's not correct. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:12
  • @Araucaria, can you give me the link that mentions other uses of "would have PP" & "would not have PP"?
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 11:32
  • I'm afraid I don't know any. Here's the best I can do ...! Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 12:06
  • @Araucaria, it said nothing about other uses of "Would have PP"
    – Tom
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 12:11
  • It doesn't really make any difference in the end. "Would have + PP" means that X was a logical outcome of some situation (which may or may not have been real). Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 12:24

1 Answer 1

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So, ex, "I would have called you" or "I wouldn't have called you" always refer to unreal events, that is it only refers to "I didn't call you" or "I called you" respectively, right?

Yes.

"I would have called you" means that I have not called you.

"I wouldn't have called you" means that I have called you.

However, there's another wrinkle. Let's say that I call you and say the following sentence:

I would have called you last week, but my phone was broken.

In this case, I have called you - and yet the sentence is correct. This is because of "last week". In this sentence, "would have" doesn't refer to now, it refers to last week. This sentence means that even though I called you now, I did not call you last week.

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  • Likewise, "I wouldn't have called you if I was him." I did not call you, but it's still correct because he did. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 5:07

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