1. I thought you would have picked him up from school.

  2. I had thought you would have picked him from school.

In the first case "thought" verb on the timeline comes after the "picking" verb.

In the second case "thought" verb on the timeline comes before the "picking" verb.

Am I correct with this logic? If I am, then why do native speakers use these two sentences interchangeably?


Someone's kid was supposed to be picked from the school at 1 p.m. The mother at 2 p.m. angrily scolds her husband for being careless for not picking his/her son up from school.

If she used (2) then that would mean "thought" verb came before before 1 p.m., expecting her husband to pick his son up later.

If she used (1) then that would mean "thought" verb came after 1 p.m., let's say 1:30 p.m. expecting her husband to have already picked up her son.

Am I correct with this line of reasoning?

  • Can you please edit this to give us the full context of the story? To answer it, I'll have to refer to specific points in time.
    – gotube
    Nov 13, 2021 at 17:09
  • I have added the context, pls gimme your input. Nov 13, 2021 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


1 is correct. 2 is incorrect, but you still might here people say it.

Sentence 1 and 2 both mean exactly what you have guessed in your question.

The problem in sentence 2 is that "would have picked him up" refers to a time previous to "think". But in sentence 2, the mother is having this thought before 1 pm, so the child should not have been picked up yet. At 1 pm, she would have thought, "My husband is going to pick him up", so a correct version of sentence 2 could be:

2a) I'd thought you were going to pick him up.

This is the reported speech back-shifted version of her actual thought before 1pm.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – gotube
    Nov 13, 2021 at 18:17

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