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    #1

    I would have thought = I had thought?

    The sentence 'I would have thought I was free in a place like this' (without any context) in the COLLINS COBUILD ENGLISH USAGE is translated in my Chinese version of the usage book as 'I had thought I was free in a place like this'.

    I'd like to know if the original sentence does mean the translated one? Or in some context it does?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    That use of the past perfect is archaic. Without further context the translation is at best confusing and at worst wrong. 'I had thought' is not an accurate way of expressing 'I would have thought'. Beware of bilingual dictionaries.

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    #3

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    Thanks a lot, Bob. 'I would have thought' is a difficult construction for a Chinese learner of English and I've been thinking about what exactly it means. I'd like to ask further about this sentence:

    Does it roughly mean 'I would/should think I'm free in a place like this'?

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    'If I had not been fettered, I would have thought I was free in a place like this.'
    Does this context in the third conditional make sense?

    Not a teacher.

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    #5

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    Thanks a lot, Wai. That may be one of the contexts. Michael Swan's third edition of Practical English Usage has this:

    Note the common use of would before verbs of saying and thinking, to make a
    statement sound less definite.
    I would say we'd do better to catch the earlier train.
    This is what I would call annoying.
    I would think we might stop for lunch soon.
    I'm surprised you didn't like the film. I would have thought it was just your kind of thing.
    We would ask passengers to have their tickets ready for inspection.

    Thus came my further question of the meaning of the sentence.

    Hoping to get further help from this great forum.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    I'm surprised you didn't like the film. I would have thought it was just your kind of thing.
    "I would have thought it was just your kind of thing if you had not said 'It sucks'."
    Again, I made up a context. I often think that 'someone would have done something' should be part of the third conditional.

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    #7

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    It didn't meet your expectations-you were expecting to be free, but you weren't.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    May I take 'I would have thought (a situation)' to mean 'I was expecting (a situation) but it did not happen or even turned out to be the contrary'?

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    #9

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    To me, "I would have thought I was free ..." means, "If you had asked me before, or if I had thought about the subject, I would have thought I was free. However, until this happened, the idea had not occurred to me consciously.
    So it doesn't mean "I was expecting to be free". That would be, "I thought I would be free".

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    #10

    Re: I would have thought = I had thought?

    A thousand thanks to Tdol, Mathew and Raymott for your great help. I think I've got to understand what the sentence means now. (I tried many times but again the thank and like buttons wouldn't work.)

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