I know that the usage of would have carries two main meanings: one is often paired with but, say, I would have loaned you the money, but I didn’t have any; the other is used in conditional sentences concerning unreal past events, like If I had known they were vegetarians, I would have made a salad for them. I’d like to know whether there are other usages that I fail to remember. Thanks a lot!

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    One thing I will say is that, from my point of view as a native speaker, the two uses of "would have" you've described are not two separate meanings at all. Both of them use "would have" to convey the same thing, and both concern unreal past events. The first sentence could equally well have been worded "If I'd had the money, I would have loaned it to you", while the second sentence could equally well have been worded "I would have made a salad for them, but I didn't know they were vegetarians".
    – rjpond
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 8:55
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    Note that there is an error, mainly perpetrated by US speakers, when they say "If I would have locked the door, the burglar couldn't have got in". That is, they use the conditional perfect (if I would have done) when they should be using the past perfect (if I had done). Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


I'm not a native English, so correct my mistakes, please. You can use would have as the past tense of will have. "It was five o'clock. I knew she would have finished work by then."

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    I think it would be better to paraphrase it as “By the time it was five o’clock, she had finished the work.”
    – Raymond
    Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:37
  • @Raymond. Ok, thank you. Anyway, the meaning of the two sentences seems different. The last version doesn't include the circumstance that I knew she had finished. Commented Sep 6, 2020 at 10:48

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