1. His help was really necessary. After all, who else would have helped me through at that time (if he had not help me.)?

  2. Of course my mom bought it for me. Who else would have?

The first one has an If clause as the hypothetical condition, which can be omitted but still imply the same meaning. Why does the second one not seem to require an “if clause” at all?

  • I don't see any difference. You could say, "Who else would have if she hadn't bought it?" just like the first sentence. Why do you think they're different?
    – gotube
    Dec 10, 2022 at 8:32
  • As in this conversation: Who was the murder? Of course James killed them. Who else would have killed people in such a cruel way? It doesn’t imply “if James had not killed them.” It literal means no one else would have done that. No hypothetical condition is omitted. Dec 10, 2022 at 10:36
  • 1
    Your question is, "Why does the second one not seem to require an "if clause" at all?" But neither one requires an if-clause, and both can have an if-clause, so your question is wrong. I think you're actually asking about the different function of the would-clause between those two sentences. Like, maybe you think the first one is a real question while the second is rhetorical, or something, but it's not about if-clauses.
    – gotube
    Dec 10, 2022 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


You could write the second sentence with the if clause:

Of course my mom bought it for me. Who else would have (other than her/if not for her)?

I think both sentences you gave are more or less equivalent in terms of how natural they sound with and without the “if”.

  • But I think for the listeners, we are not sure if his mom really bought it for him, so we do not know whether “if not for her” was hypothetical. It’s like: a: who was the murder? b: of course Jimmy was the murder. Who else would have killed people in this way (if jimmy didn’t do that instead of if jimmy had not done that) Dec 10, 2022 at 6:05

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