I was writing a letter for my exam practise. I have written a sentence in this letter which is

Otherwise, not only would I have said no to the client but I also would have brought so many gifts for Janet.

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Its about a hypothetical action and a hypothetical result in the future. I will have said no in the future to my client and will also carry some gifts for janet, but as I am already commited its not possible to do so.

If this sentence is wrong can you please explain a way to write such sentences?

  • 1
    If saying 'no' to the client is also hypothetical, it needs to be 'not only would I have said'. – Kate Bunting Sep 25 '20 at 16:27
  • @Kate Bunting..Yes, that is also hypothetical. I have made the edit. – Sudhir Sharma Sep 25 '20 at 16:31
  • @Kate Bunting.. I am confused that we use this would have + past participle form for hypothetical result in the past like in the third conditional. For instance : If it had not rained that day, I would have slept on a dry bed. – Sudhir Sharma Sep 25 '20 at 16:34
  • @SudhirSharma The reason for that is, we use "I would"+*bare infinitive* to refer to conditional or contingent actions in the present/future, so a different construction is needed to refer to conditional or contingent actions in the past. The perfect form "I have"+*past participle* is used to refer to completed events, so similarly, the conditional perfect "I would have"+*past participle* refers to conditions in the past where the contingency is closed off or completed and can therefore no longer be fulfilled. – rjpond Sep 25 '20 at 19:41

You are trying to show that carrying the presents for Janet stopped you from doing something for the client. That would be expressed by:

I was carrying so many gifts for Janet, and so had to say no to my client


I had to say no to my client, since I was carrying so many gifts to Janet

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.