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Which one is correct?

  • I wouldn’t have thought that a few years ago.

OR

  • I wouldn’t think that a few years ago.
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    The correct one is the first one: > "I wouldn't have thought that a few years ago." – Nick Nov 2 '17 at 14:32
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Both are correct in their own context:

"I wouldn’t have thought that a few years ago" either suggests some condition in the past--e.g. If you had suggested the context, I would have provided a more expanded answer--or it is equal to just "it's not likely that I thought that" or "I'm not the one to have thought that".

In "I wouldn’t think that a few years ago", wouldn't shows the refusal to think that in the past.

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'I wouldn't think' can be determined as past or conditional.

Here are two examples to illustrate my point:

  1. 'When he was little, he used to go to the movies every day, and he would always see the same kinds of movies.' -- in this example, 'would' is being used to communicate the past, and in this case, it indicates that the action was habitual.

  2. 'If I were rich, I would buy a big house.' -- We clearly see in this example that 'would' is being used in a conditional sense.

'I wouldn't have thought that a few years ago' is PAST conditional as Rompey has explained, and 'I wouldn't think that a few years ago' is indicating that the action was habitual in the past (as in the first example I provided), which I can emphasize by expanding the sentence: 'I wouldn't think that, at any point in time, really not once, and I would get lots of opportunities to think that, but I wouldn't ever allow myself to think that, I really wouldn't think that.'

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