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She hoped that we would not construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

She hoped that we would not construe her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

She hoped that we would not have construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

Perhaps all of them are grammatically correct, but I cannot digest the difference between them. Could you please simplify them in simple English so that I can get the difference. Please also tell me which one is more used in real English, lexicaly.

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Paraphrase:

I'll try to simplify the sentence so that the meaning is clearer. :)

The politician hoped that we would not think that her decision to run for office was an attempt to seize power.

The politician did not want us to think that she was power-hungry because she had decided to run for political office.

The politician decided to run for political office, but was worried that people would think she was power-hungry.


Sentence 1:

She hoped that we would not construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

This sentence is incorrect. You can't use "would not + past participle". You have to use "would not + infinitive" or "would not + BE + past participle". For example...

She hoped that her decision to run for office would not BE construed as a thirst for power.


Sentence 2:

She hoped that we would not construe her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

This sentence is the most correct of the three. It follows the grammatically correct format of "would not + infinitive" I mentioned above.


Sentence 3:

She hoped that we would not have construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

This sentence does not sound good to my native ear. I think it is incorrect, but I am not sure. I don't recommend using it. If you want to use the perfect here, I would recommend changing the sentence to...

She HAD hoped that we would not construe her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.


Bonus:

Perhaps all of them are grammatically correct, but I cannot digest the difference between them.

I don't think "digest" is the correct verb here. Digest is what you do after you eat food. I would use the verb phrase "figure out" instead.

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    I don't think the sentence #3 should be branded as incorrect. It's valid, and also the improvement you suggested against the sentence #3 is also correct :) Dec 17, 2014 at 16:45
  • @Man_From_India Good point. It doesn't sound good for me, but who knows, maybe it is grammatically correct. I went ahead and updated my answer to reflect this. Dec 17, 2014 at 16:51
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First Sentence

She hoped that we would not construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

The first sentence is simply wrong, because in this particular case "would not " requires a verb or verb phrase in the present tense. So, you could say "would not construe" (as in the second sentence) or reorganize the sentence to make it a passive verb (e.g. "be construed"), but I'd avoid the latter without a very good reason. Instead, my preferred construction of the sentence would be the second sentence.

Second Sentence

She hoped that we would not construe her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

This sentence roughly means:

At some point or period in the past, the woman who is the subject of the sentence wanted to compete for an elected office without being seen as a self-serving person who is hungry for power, or without the decision to run being seen as a self-serving attempt to gain (unwarranted or excessive) power for its own sake.

Unpacking the semantics of the sentence doesn't simplify it, though. The original sentence, once corrected, is one of the simplest and most idiomatic ways to express the general idea.

Differences Between Sentences

The first sentence is ungrammatical. The second sentence is correct. The third sentence may or may not be grammatically correct, but it sounds stilted and unlikely to come from a native speaker.

The second sentence is one a native speaker might use. The third sentence attempts to use a construction that implies that some action began and ended in the past. So, this sentence:

She hoped that we would not have construed her decision to run for office as a thirst for power.

tries to convey the sense that the woman wished/desired (in the past) that some group of people would interpret her decision to run for office positively, but "would not have construed" just doesn't work with this sentence even if it's technically grammatical. It would make more sense when referring to a time-limited or hypothetical action in the past, such as:

If we'd known about her decision to run for office, we would not have construed it (at that time) as a power grab.

This uses past perfect tense and a modal verb ("would have") to make the hypothetical more explicit, which is what I suspect the third sentence was aiming for.

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  • It's not correct to say that "would not" is followed by a present tense form. Rather, it is followed by a bare infinitive. We say "she would not go" (not "goes") and "she would not be" (not "is").
    – rjpond
    Jan 1, 2021 at 0:11
  • @rjpond I’ve clarified the intent. I’m not making a universal point; the current sentence construction requires a present tense verb. You can’t say “would not ran” or “would not opened”, either. There’s probably a linguistic term for it, but in my reckoning most past-tense hypotheticals of the form “hoped/wished/wanted” need to be followed be a modal verb in the present tense. English is full of edge cases, though, so I’d never claim that was always the case.
    – CodeGnome
    Jan 1, 2021 at 15:19

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