would have vs had : Common Errors in English

About would have vs had

People are often confused about how to discuss something that didn’t happen in the past. It’s standard usage to say “If I had remembered where I parked the car, I would have gotten home sooner.” Notice that in the part of the sentence containing “if” the helping verb is “had” but in the other part of the sentence, which depends logically on the first, the verb “gotten” is preceded by “would have.” The same pattern applies when the “if” is in a later part of the sentence: “I would have gotten home sooner if I had remembered where I parked the car.” Plain old “had” stays with the “if” clause (the second one) and “would have” goes in the other clause (the first one). The problem is that people used to thinking of “would have” as marking non-events in the past often replace a correct “had” with an incorrect “would have”: “If I would have remembered where I parked the car. . . .’ This is nonstandard. Even worse, the same mistake is made in sentences where no “if” is involved: “The robber wished he would have given the bank clerk a fake ID when she asked for one.” This should be “The robber wished he had given.” One reminder of the correct pattern is that “had” all by itself can replace “if . . had”: “Had I remembered where I parked the car. . . . “Would have” clearly can’t be used in this way, so you need to stick with plain old “had.”

had Meaning(s)

  • (n) a person who possesses great material wealth
  • (v) have or possess, either in a concrete or an abstract sense
  • (v) have as a feature
  • (v) go through (mental or physical states or experiences)
  • (v) have ownership or possession of
  • (v) cause to move; cause to be in a certain position or condition
  • (v) serve oneself to, or consume regularly
  • (v) have a personal or business relationship with someone
  • (v) organize or be responsible for
  • (v) have left
  • (v) be confronted with
  • (v) undergo
  • (v) suffer from; be ill with
  • (v) cause to do; cause to act in a specified manner
  • (v) receive willingly something given or offered
  • (v) get something; come into possession of
  • (v) undergo (as of injuries and illnesses)
  • (v) achieve a point or goal
  • (v) cause to be born
  • (v) have sex with; archaic use

would have in News

  1. English history with a twist in 'The Boleyn King'

    By Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - What would have happened if Anne Boleyn, the wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, had given her husband the son he so desperately wanted instead of miscarrying and eventually losing her head as a traitor? This is the premise behind "The Boleyn King" by Laura Anderson, the first book of a trilogy set to take a look at the reign of Henry IX, known as ...
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Reuters via Yahoo! News

  2. Senate bill would treat sex trafficking as child abuse for victims

    WASHINGTON — Child prostitutes would be considered victims of abuse rather than juvenile offenders and would have to be referred to child welfare officials under legislation in Congress aimed at strengthening care for them before they become ensnared in the criminal justice system.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

  3. Gov. Herbert says he would have fired Swallow by now, Swallow responds

    SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, said he would have fired John Swallow by now. Utah’s highest ranking...
    on June 12, 2013 Source: FOX 13 Utah

had in News

  1. DA: Couple Had Tequila Before Stiletto Stabbing

    DA: Houston couple had tequila, argued before man fatally stabbed by stiletto heel        
    on June 12, 2013 Source: ABC News

  2. Denver homes had fastest turnover of any major metro area in April

    Denver had the highest share of homes selling within seven days or fewer in April among the country's major metro areas, according to a report Tuesday from ZipRealty.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: Denver Post

  3. Wyden: DNI had day to prep answer on surveillance, and chance to amend; said no wide sweep

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Wyden: DNI had day to prep answer on surveillance, and chance to amend; said no wide sweep.        
    on June 11, 2013 Source: Boston Globe

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