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I saw this sentence in a song called "It wouldn't have made any difference":

'Cause it wouldn't have made any difference, If you loved me.

Question:

what does this mean? what are the implied meanings in it?

I have learned that

We use "would have" and "would not have" to imagine the opposite of what really happened in the past.

Does this indicate such a fact:
That you don't love me actually makes some difference.

Can I express a similar meaning with such a sencence:
It would be fine, everything would be ok, only if you loved me. But since you do not love me, it's the end of the world.

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  • Hey Thomas, it would be helpful to have a few more lines of the lyrics to give context around this line. Jun 2, 2023 at 16:51
  • The text is ambiguous. All interpretations imply that the addressee didn't love the speaker. The ambiguity concerns whether "it" refers to whether or not the addressee loved the speaker (in which case the utterance means that it's irrelevant whether addressee loved speaker) OR "it" is a "generic reference" (as in It's raining). In that second case, the meaning is that something happened - that had a (probably bad) effect on speaker, but if the addressee had loved the speaker, that "something" wouldn't have affected the speaker. But we don't have enough context. Jun 2, 2023 at 16:53

2 Answers 2

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The expression, "it wouldn't have made any difference" introduces a condition with the pronoun "it", and the meaning is that this condition has no effect. In this context, however, it's ambiguous what the condition "it" is.

One way to read it is the condition is "if you loved me". In that case, it means that she didn't love him, but her not loving him didn't change anything. In the full context of the song, it would probably suggest their relationship ended because she didn't trust him, not because she didn't love him.

Any other way you read it, "if you loved me" is not the condition that would have made no difference, so it means the opposite -- that if she loved him, nothing else would have mattered (it wouldn't have made any difference), but she doesn't love him, so it does matter, and things are bad. This is the meaning of your rephrasing.

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    You've expressed it much better than my attempt in a comment! Jun 2, 2023 at 18:24
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So, the first thing we should recognize is the author is singing about someone who doesn't/didn't love them - as you pointed out, "wouldn't have" is used when discussing something different from what actually is/was true.

There are two main ways beyond that this sentence could be interpreted in this song:

The bad things that happened to me wouldn't have mattered to me if you loved me

This version implies that if they had the subject's love, the author wouldn't have cared about other bad things they're singing about.

The things that I did that made you leave me wouldn't have mattered to you if you loved me

This version implies that the subject is rejecting the author really because they don't love him, not because of the things he did.

I looked up the lyrics, and assuming this is the song by Todd Rundgren (there are several songs with the title you gave), I think the second answer is more likely, but the lyrics are ambiguous.

There's also a third interpretation that doesn't fit well in the context of the song, which is

Nothing would be different if you loved me.

This meaning is common for uses 'it wouldn't have made a difference' in general, but very unlikely for 'it wouldn't have made a difference if you loved me', because almost always people who talk, write, or sing about love believe it does make a very large difference.

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    I'd like to give you an extra upvote just for that last sentence! Jun 2, 2023 at 18:26
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    Regarding the last sentence, it's possible that the correct literal interpretation of the phrase is that nothing would be different, but that the subtext is otherwise. For example, the singer might be trying to convince themselves that it doesn't/didn't matter either way to try to help themselves feel better. The fact that they are saying something which means they don't care when they actually do care, shows the depth of their feelings using a poetic device. Jun 3, 2023 at 5:06

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