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'. Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 16:27
  • @Kate Bunting..Yes, that is also hypothetical. I have made the edit. Commented Sep 25, 2020 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. Commented Sep 25, 2020 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
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 19:41
  • Where's the if part??
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


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


The sentence is correct, although the use of "so" in the clause might be considered informal or slang if you meant "very many gifts". You indicate that you would perform both actions (saying "no" to the client AND bringing gifts) but cannot since you are already otherwise committed.

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