Consider the following, please:

A: Exams are soon, so my mother didn't allow me to go to my friend's birthday party yesterday. But I didn't listen to her and went to the party. Was it wrong of me to do that?

B1: yes, I would listen to your mother. (meaning "if I were you and that happened/were to happen with me, ie, your mother didn't allow me to go, I'd listen to her")

B2: yes, I would've listened to your mother. (meaning "if I were you, I would've listened to your mother")

Q1: Are responses 1 and 2 both correct?

Q2: Is the use of "your mother" correct in the responses? It shouldn't be "my mother", right?

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    Native speakers wouldn't normally care about such things. The meaning is obvious (as evidenced by the fact that we routinely don't bother with If I were you, which must be understood by whoever you're talking to, otherwise the entire utterance would be nonsense). Commented Jan 28 at 19:12
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    I’m voting to close this question because it's just making a pedantic point Commented Jan 28 at 19:13
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    ...note that it's not pedantry for me to point out that your first sentence is idiomatically invalid. Native speakers never say Exams are soon. Commented Jan 28 at 19:15
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    @FumbleFingers as a native (BrEng) speaker, "exams are soon" sounds perfectly natural to me.
    – Vicky
    Commented Jan 29 at 10:24
  • @Vicky: Perhaps I overstated the case, but as a standalone utterance, Exams are soon sounds weird to me, even though I'm perfectly happy with The exams are coming [up] soon. I tried to compare usages with Google NGrams, but "impending exams" aren't common enough to show anything useful... Commented Jan 29 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


A minor detail of meaning. "I would" means "If I were you and this situation happened to me in the future ..." Whereas "I would have" means "If I were you and this situation happened to me in the past (and in particular yesterday)...".

But for any reasonable person, "I would" implies and is implied by "I would have" (in this situation) so take your pick.

In speech, these constructions are nearly always reduced to "I'd" and "I would've" (or even I'd've, though that is rare in writing)

"your mother" is still your mother (even if I were you) so "I'd listen to your mother" is probably better than "my mother". But again you can choose your meaning.

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    Side note: I'd've is often written as "I'd have" when the former would not be accepted. The "have" is just deemphasized.
    – trlkly
    Commented Jan 29 at 18:06

They're very similar, but B1 is more general. "I would listen to your mother" describes a general policy: they're saying that if they were you they would normally listen to their mother.

B2 is more restrictive. "I would have listened to your mother" describes what they would have done in that specific situation. However, one might infer that this is just a particular example of the above general policy. "I would have done X [because it's generally a good idea]."

  • Good distinction. Commented Jan 29 at 17:00

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