So, I was watching a movie where I encountered this dialogue.

"There was no way we could have known our pilots would have been this ineffective against them".

Isn't "would have" supposed to be used when talking about a conditional pertaining to a past event. The consequence of an if-statement about a past event takes "would/could/should have". But here, using only "would" sounds rather correct to me instead as when we are talking an event of the past where we were referring to an event in future of that point of time. So, shouldn't just "would" be put in place of "would have" ?


1 Answer 1


The phrase "would have been" is used to convey a hypothetical or unrealized past condition.

The sentence implies that at some point in the past nobody(subject "we")was able to predict the ineffectiveness of the pilot (as it was not possible for them.)

(They had no way of knowing how bad their pilots would perform in a particular situation.)

  • So, this is not a case of hypercorrection, and the sentence is grammatically correct ?
    – Rayhan
    Sep 29, 2023 at 9:58
  • @Rayhan Yes, this sentence is grammatically correct and common usage in spoken and written English. Using "would be" instead of "would have been" would be equally correct. Both are fine. Oct 21, 2023 at 13:01

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