Someone told me that this sentence is wrong. I considered it but I don't think so. Is this sentence incorrect please? Why?

Jaime would help you yesterday but he had to work.

EDIT: This sentence seems correct to me and it has the meaning below:

Jaime had the desire/intention of helping you (or he afforded to help you), but since he had to work, he didn't/couldn't do that.

If you think of the sentence as incorrect, how to correct it please?

closed as off-topic by P. E. Dant, Robusto, user178049, Varun Nair, Peter Jul 8 '17 at 2:18

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  • They just said it's wrong. I disagree because I see no issue with it. – Abbasi Jul 6 '17 at 21:18
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    It's ungrammatical but I'm on the fence about flagging it as proofreading. – userr2684291 Jul 6 '17 at 21:23
  • Instead of an answer, I'll give you a hint: look up the past unreal conditional. Your sentence has an implicit if-clause. – userr2684291 Jul 6 '17 at 21:52
  • Whoever they are, they are right, and you should listen to and learn from them. Of course it is incorrect. If you think not, you need to learn about conditionals in English. "I would help you yesterday." Does that also seem correct to you? – P. E. Dant Jul 6 '17 at 22:00
  • @userr2684291: Jaime would help you if he hadn't to work. – Abbasi Jul 6 '17 at 22:03

The idiomatic way to say this is with the modal "would have" to indicate lost opportunity:

Jaime would have helped you, but he had to work.

This implies that Jaime had the intention to help but was unable. There is no real conditional here, although it can be expressed as an if statement:

If Jaime didn't have to work, he would have helped you.

"Would helped" is never grammatical. If talking about a conditional future event you can say something like:

Jamie would help you if he doesn't have to work.

More information: Everyday grammar: Could Have, Would Have, and Should Have

  • 1
    +1 for the answer and figuring out the issue. The question that rises now is that how can't we look upon "would" as a past tense modal while it's the past version of "will", and do you think this sentence is not correct too: She could go to any college she wanted to. – Abbasi Jul 7 '17 at 15:09
  • @Abbasi I'm not sure I understand your second question. "Would helped" is not grammatical because that's not how you conjugate the past tense of "will help". What exactly do you want to say? – Andrew Jul 7 '17 at 18:37
  • My second question is: do you think this sentence is not correct too: She could go to any college she wanted to.? – Abbasi Jul 7 '17 at 19:10
  • Yes, it's the same thing. From her perspective, in the future, going to college, she wanted to go to that college. Native speakers say things like that all the time. – Andrew Jul 7 '17 at 19:18
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    @Abbasi "could" is not always the past form of "can", e.g. "Could I have a glass of water, please" or "If only I could meet her, I know we'd fall in love." More info. This is why it's not clear what, specifically, you want to say, because in the context of your example "could" indicates a current potential, not a past potential. But you should probably ask that as a separate question. – Andrew Jul 7 '17 at 22:31

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