If I had been you, I woudn't have gone there.

Is this correct sentence?


"If I were you" is a common idiom. It puts you in somebody else's place, hypothetically.

"If I had been you" is not an idiom. If you think about it, it doesn't really make sense. Even though "if I were you" is purely hypothetical (you can never really be someone else) it is at least based on a common premise, how you would behave in the same circumstance. But the tense of "if I had been you" sounds like you could have temporarily been that person, and then returned to being yourself.

You don't need to change the tense of "if I were you", because hypotheticals are always subjunctive, so it would be fine to say:

If I were you, I would not have gone there.

  • 1
    But it's OK to say "If I had been in your shoes..." – Michael Harvey Jan 23 at 14:22
  • Thx. If we live in the world of being capable of changing ourselves into someone elses by the help of a certain technology, couldn't we say "If I had been you"? – Brandon Jan 23 at 16:29
  • Such technology would require a revision of language, and notions of identity, since at present "I" and "you" are mutually exclusive. The best you can do is the subjunctive "If I were you". – Michael Harvey Jan 23 at 19:04
  • 1
    @Brandon not if your statement were hypothetical. What is possible doesn't have a bearing on the subjunctive tense of a hypothetical statement. – Astralbee Jan 24 at 16:49

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