If I would have known you were sick, I would have brought you some meals.


If I had known you were sick, I would have brought you some meals.

For example that.

  • 3
    There is no reason to include would have in the first clause to express the meaning you intend. Jun 26 at 7:16
  • 2
    "If I would have known you were sick" - NO! NO! NO! Jun 26 at 8:20
  • This might help explain why Google translate is not infallible, although it is constantly improving: Natural language processing aka NLP
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 26 at 10:46
  • 2
    To the close voters, please don't confuse ELL with EL&U standards. The OP is still a newcomer, so give the person some slack. Besides, their research is Google Translate!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 26 at 10:48
  • 1
    You might be interested in my question “If I would have lost you” vs “If I had lost you” as asked years ago on ELU. I've almost never heard your (non-contracted) first version from BrE speakers, but it's not uncommon with non-Anglophone North Europeans, and I sometimes hear it from Americans. Most Brits only use it as the contracted If I'd have known... - and like me, many of them would "unpack" that as If I had have known... (regardless of the grammarians' horrified squawks! :) Jun 26 at 10:59

Google translate doesn't check grammar, it attempts to produce translations of whatever it is given, and if it is given ungrammatical English, it attempts to translate them, but translations of ungrammatical language is "undefined behaviour" as 'C' programmers say. So the fact that Google translates ungrammatical English to grammatical Russian (or other language) proves nothing.

The counterfactual "third conditional" form uses the past perfect for the if-clause, and the conditional form with "would" for the conclusion. You don't use the conditional "would" in the if-clause.

So only the second is correct. It means that "I did not know you were sick but..."

  • Note that both should be understandable in context.
    – user253751
    Jun 26 at 11:50
  • So far as I know, Google Translate is powered by neural net technology - which means it's effectively not "programmed" at all. And I very much doubt anyone has ever attempted to train a neural net to distinguish between "grammatical" and "ungrammatical", because it would be prohibitively expensive to create sufficient training data (in the unlikely event that a quorum of grammarians could be identified who all agreed on what is or isn't "grammatical" in the first place). So the point about "undefined behaviour" doesn't really apply here. Jun 30 at 16:01

If I would have known is a non-standard form which is fairly common, particularly in the US.

The GloWbE corpus ("Global Web-based English") shows the following counts

If I had known: 593 total (152 US, 143 GB, 43 CA, 40 IE, 33 AU)

If I would have known: 51 total (US 29, GB 6, CA 5)

So in that corpus, If I would have known occurs only 1/12 as often as If I had known, and more than half the instances of the non-standard form are from US sources.

  • Does your corpus search distinguish (or allow you to distinguish) between If I would have known... and the contracted form If I'd have known...? I have no problem at all with the contracted version (which to me only becomes "non-standard" when I "unpack" I'd to I had rather than I would). Jun 30 at 15:55
  • If + would like that is definitely hoi polloi. Sorry, but true. It's like all the people in my town who say She don't and He don't. I don't judge them for it at all. Some of them are charming. But as a listener, it tells me something about their class and educational background. People forget how HUGE the US is, so it's easy to think (from the media, etc.) that it's more widespread than, say, an equivalent class and education difference in the UK.
    – Lambie
    Jun 30 at 16:32
  • One of the comments under Prof John Lawler's answer to my question about this on ELU says I'm in the Midwestern US as well, and I hear people say "If you would have…" pretty frequently, with the word "would" fully pronounced: /ˌɪfjəˈwʊdə/. I kinda doubt the poster there thinks of himself as somehow "substandard" in terms of class or education! :) Jun 30 at 17:05
  • @FumbleFingers: I would no more use if I'd have known than I would if I would have known. I acknowledge that other people use both, though. Not got time at present to check the corpus, but I'll do so later if I remember.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 30 at 17:45
  • John Lawler doesn't explicitly say he personally uses the contracted form /ɪfaydə'lɔstyu/, but I think that's implied in the linked answer. And he says he "unpacks" that to If I had lost you - completely ignoring the schwa in the phonetic transcription. While the rest of us argue about whether that schwa represents have, John seems to just dismiss it as some kind of "artefact". Jul 1 at 11:39

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