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If only I had known about your arrival, I would have come to the station to receive you.

But I think there should be could have instead of would have. We use that kind of conditional when we have regret about past.

For example

If only he could have explained( but he wasn't able to) not If only he would have explained. and

If only I had passes the exam, I would have got the car.( but he didn't get the car)

In this sentence i think use of would have is correct.

But i am confused about 1 sentence. Don't know if i should use could have or would have.

  • 5
    in your first sentence, 'could have' implies that your coming to greet them would have been physically possible. 'Would have' implies that it was not only possible, but that you fully intended to do that & were only prevented by not knowing. – Tetsujin Jan 1 '15 at 11:07
4

Could have refers to the ability to do whatever it is.

Would have is more about the intention to do it.

If only I had known about your arrival, I would have come to the station to receive you.

In this example the speaker is saying that if they had known, they would definitely have met the person at the station. If we change it to:

If only I had known about your arrival, I could have come to the station to receive you.

the speaker is only saying that they would have had the ability to be at the station. Whether they would have actually turned up or not is left unstated.

If only he could have explained.

is saying that 'he' was not able to explain. But if we change it to would:

If only he would have explained.

It's still grammatical. It's saying that 'he' had the ability to explain, but chose not to for some unspecified reason.

(I tried to use would in my answer as little as possible, since it's one of the words in question, but I couldn't think of any sensible way to rephrase my sentences.)

2

Your description about when to use "would have" or "could have" is very correct.

Let's review the sentence:

If only I had known about your arrival, I would have come to the station to receive you.

What does it mean? The speaker didn't know about the arrival of the person or persons he addresses. He says that if we rewrite the history in a way that I knew when you're going to arrive, I would definitely be present to meet you in the station.

The misunderstanding occurs here: The speaker didn't regret receiving his friends, or better say, wouldn't have regretted receiving his friends in the station. He/She only regrets that it wasn't possible for him/her to meet those people in the station.

Back to the sentence, we see that "would have" is used about "receiving in the station", not about the "improbability of receiving them there". So, it's usage is correct.

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