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  1. #1
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default "would have" for past readiness

    Here is the sentence from the heading of a magazine article :

    The Mexicans I met would have done anything to come to United States.

    (if the context matters here , the next sentence in the heading is : All I needed was a plane ticket.)

    How I understand the sentence is in the sense : " they were inclined to do anything .. " i.e the meaning is past . If I put "would" instead of "would have" , does the meaning change to something like : they are inclined to do anything..i.e that is their typical behaviour, something permanent.

    Would the meaning of the quoted sentence be essentially changed if I used "would" instead of "would have done" ?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    If you replace it with "would do", it means the same, but in the present rather than in the past.

  3. #3
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    Thanks for the answer Anglika and sorry for making a mistake in my question .I omitted "do" by mistake,I meant to say "would do". I'm right then that using "would do" gives the sentence impression of general truth similar to simple present tense and that using "would have" tends to have past meaning ? Or it is just a nuance and both usages convey present rather than past?

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    You are correct

  5. #5
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    Anglika sorry for bothering but what's correct? The first or second?

    1.I'm right then that using "would do" gives the sentence impression of general truth similar to simple present tense and that using "would have" tends to have past meaning ?

    2.it is just a nuance and both usages convey present rather than past?

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    #1 is correct

  7. #7
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    Many thanks Anglika.

  8. #8
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    Quote Originally Posted by velimir View Post
    Here is the sentence from the heading of a magazine article :

    The Mexicans I met would have done anything to come to United States.

    (if the context matters here , the next sentence in the heading is : All I needed was a plane ticket.)

    How I understand the sentence is in the sense : " they were inclined to do anything .. " i.e the meaning is past . If I put "would" instead of "would have" , does the meaning change to something like : they are inclined to do anything..i.e that is their typical behaviour, something permanent.

    Would the meaning of the quoted sentence be essentially changed if I used "would" instead of "would have done" ?
    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by velimir View Post
    1.I'm right then that using "would do" gives the sentence impression of general truth similar to simple present tense and that using "would have" tends to have past meaning ?

    2.it is just a nuance and both usages convey present rather than past?

    Anglika replied: #1 is correct.

    I find that I must disagree, Anglika. I don't believe that this is "in the past" at all, whether 'would have' is used or 'would do' is used.

    Both 'would do' and 'would have done' "convey present rather than past".

    If 'he' were to go back and find that same group of people it is almost certain that they would have the same feelings, ie. "they would still do almost anything" to realize their wish.

    While this isn't an example of reported speech in its commonly understood form, I think that from the meaning we can see that it is indeed a report of what the group of Mexicans had to say.

    The Mexicans I met said they would have done anything to come to United States.

    The Mexicans I met said "we will/would do anything to come to the United States".

    The only thing past is the meeting [met] and the saying [said].

  9. #9
    Horsa is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    I am not convinced by the last argument. 'I met' here surely just restricts the group 'The Mexicans' to those 'I met'. If we change this to the pronoun 'They' we get

    They would have done anything to come to the United States.

    or

    They would do anything to come to the United States.


    For me, at least, there is clearly a difference in meaning here. In the first it seems to me that the speaker has chosen this form because he is emphasizing 'at that time' i.e. when he met them. This may be because the speaker has doubts about whether this is still true or merely chooses not to speculate but to stick to the facts. The second, on the other hand, clearly states that this is true now in the mind of the speaker.

    Hence, I am of the opinion that Angelika is right - especially as option one states 'tends to have past meaning' and does not exclude the possibility that it may still be true but that the speaker is concentrating on 'then'.

  10. #10
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: "would have" for past readiness

    Hello everybody,

    I'm glad that the question has attracted attention and ,as a learner still far from good knowledge of the english language I would like to say only that Anglika's explanation and Horsa's elaboration of the point fit in nice with my previous understanding of the matter. Im not contending anything of course.

    Thanks

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