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