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Of course, there has been a raft of questions and answers about how to use the construction would+Perfect Infinitive but one I have stumbled across on the Internet plunged me into bewilderment.

I have never met such an aspect of its use in any books on English Grammar. And here it is:

"It doesn't matter whether the action would have happened in the past or in the future. You use "would have (done)" to talk about something that's about to happen:

A: Don't forget, we have a meeting this afternoon at two.

B: Don't worry, I would have remembered!"

Can it be (or I may be misinterpreting something) that the construction of B: "...I would have remembered" relates to the future implication?

I.e., is the following line true?

  • "Don't worry, I would have remembered!" = "Don't worry, I would have remembered about the meeting by half past one!" = "Don't worry, I will have remembered about the meeting by half past one!"

If there are any references to grammar rules on this usage, please render them to me.

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    I take it to mean "I would have remembered even if you had not reminded me." Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 10:51
  • @Kate Bunting Thank you as usual and Happy New Year with all my best regards!
    – Eugene
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 10:54
  • I would have taken it to mean exactly the same as you did. But there is the first part of the by-me-adduced pattern which is about its conditional aspect (I should have put it up to avoid ambiguity): "Whenever you hear "I would have..", you can always imagine that the sentence ends with "if ..". For example: I would have remembered (I would have remembered even if you hadn't emailed me). "I would have.." is used to talk about something that didn't really happen, but you're imagining how things would be different if something different had happened in the past." And then as in my question:
    – Eugene
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 11:07
  • "It doesn't matter whether the action would have happened in the past or in the future. You use "would have (done)" to talk about something that's about to happen:..." From this fact I concluded that it was not the conditional that was taken up in this part.
    – Eugene
    Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 11:13
  • Well, I suppose that, if B was thinking about the meeting before A spoke they would say "I haven't forgotten" - so, yes, you could say that it means "I'm confident that I would have thought about it soon without being reminded". Commented Jan 1, 2022 at 11:49

1 Answer 1

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Sentence B is essentially the apodosis of a "third conditional" sentence. This requires that the protasis use the past perfect form and that the apodosis use the perfect form of the modal auxiliaries should, would, could, might, or may. Wikipedia gives these examples of the third conditional:

If you had called me, I would have come.
Would he have succeeded if I had helped him?

Therefore, as KB suggested in a comment, your sentence could be understood as:

Don't worry, [[even if you hadn't reminded me,]] I would have remembered!"

Your suggestion (changing "would" to "will") has a similar meaning, but we don't usually use the future tense in such situations.

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  • +1 And if "would have remembered" refers to a future time (between now and the meeting at 2:00), then it could also be an example of the Mixed Conditional further down in the same source you linked. Its description of "When the condition refers to the past, but the consequence to the present" seems like a fairly close match for that situation. Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 3:53
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    @QuackE.Duck Yes, that could apply in that situation. And let's not forget that although the descriptions in that Wikipeida article are common forms of conditional sentences, they're not exhaustive. Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 16:05
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    @Eugene Your second sentence ("I wish he would have arrived by 2 p.m. tomorrow") doesn't seem right to me. However, as I just mentioned in my previous comment, English conditional sentences come in many forms, and they vary by dialect, register, etc., so that might be fine. Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 16:08
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    @Eugene It may be syntactically valid, but the word "wish" combined with a perfect tense just doesn't sound right to express the possibility of something that may still happen. "I wish... A would have B" sounds like a contrary-to-fact condition until you hear "tomorrow," which is jarring. Like MarcInManhattan said though, I don't know if this varies by dialect. I wonder if Ngrams would turn anything up? Commented Jun 28, 2023 at 16:33
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    @Quack E. Duck Thank you very much for your profound and qualitative elucidation!
    – Eugene
    Commented Jun 29, 2023 at 17:57

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