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    #1

    if you would have predicted five years ago

    Hi folks,

    When he met with Aung San Suu Kyi , President Obama said, "And if you would have predicted five years ago that Aung San Suu Kyi would now be here sitting as the newly elected representative of her country, many people would have been skeptical."

    Grammatically it should have been "if you had predicted", but many native speakers of English, including Obama, don't seem to care about this too much. Why so? Any comments?

    Thanks in advance.

    emp0608

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Quote Originally Posted by emp0608 View Post
    Hi folks,

    When he met with Aung San Suu Kyi , President Obama said, "And if you would have predicted five years ago that Aung San Suu Kyi would now be here sitting as the newly elected representative of her country, many people would have been skeptical."

    Grammatically it should have been "if you had predicted", but many native speakers of English, including Obama, don't seem to care about this too much. Why so? Any comments?
    I think "if you would have..." is fine.

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    #4

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    You can read about the past unreal conditional here, which explains why what he said is actually grammatically correct.
    Wear short sleeves! Support your right to bare arms!

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Quote Originally Posted by emp0608 View Post
    many native speakers of English, including Obama, don't seem to care about this too much.
    The author of the following seems to care about this.
    http://data.grammarbook.com/blog/ver...e-vs-if-i-had/
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Quote Originally Posted by ChinaDan View Post
    I think "if you would have..." is fine.
    It is if that's what he meant, but it seems that he meant, "If you had predicted ..."
    "Many people would have been skeptical" only if the person had predicted it. They would not have been skeptical only if the person "would have predicted it" under some unnamed condition.

    Hence, it's only fine if you don't care that people might question your grammar. Naturally, those who use "would have" for 'had' as many do, won't agree. We've had this discussion before, and several regulars here do use it. The other drawback of its use is that "If you would have ..." is then not available to mean "If you would have...."


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    #7

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    You can read about the past unreal conditional here, which explains why what he said is actually grammatically correct.
    Where exactly?

    As a teacher, I would say say that what Obama said was a typical error. It's particularly prevalent in American English -- I hear it all the time, which suggests that's it's becoming natural use, but I'd still say that it's wrong (meaning I would correct it.)

    I suspect that it's a result of two things. First, the contraction of I had (I'd) having become confused with I would (I'd). Second, I think there's a natural tendency for an extra syllable to intrude after the had, purely for rhythmic reasons, creating the illusion of an unstessed have. For example, if I'd known becomes if I'd've known because it's easier to say, by avoiding a double consonant. And because the brain cannot compute had have together, it understands would have.

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    #8

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    You can read about the past unreal conditional here, which explains why what he said is actually grammatically correct.
    I can't see any examples there of "If he would have..." or "would have" in the "if" clause. In fact, I've never seen a good defence of this usage.

    It obviously occurs in some dialects or idiolects. It's not grammatical in standard English.

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    #9

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Is there even any kind of defence at all? Apart from that it's a common mistake (so therefore not a mistake)?

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    #10

    Re: if you would have predicted five years ago

    Something being a common mistake doesn't make it correct, nor is it a defence. If it were, we'd accept "I could/would/should of ..." as correct as it's one of the most common mistakes in BrE.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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