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    #1

    Past Subjunctive

    Hi there. I am an American who is a native American-English speaker, as well as now am bilingual in Spanish. However, my fiance is from the Ivory Coast of Africa and he looks to me to clarify how to properly state things in English. We came upon a sentence (I said it, actually...and he asked me why I said it, though I did it without thinking) that we are not sure what exactly is the true way to say the past subjunctive of an irregular American English verb. What I said was, "If you would have let me, I would have came to New York" (talking about a trip to visit him there after a traumatic event in his life--even though I am 2 weeks short of completing my Master's thesis). Typically, you would think that the phrase would have been "I would have come to New York" which, in truth is bad English. However, then I recalled that sometimes I have heard people saying "I would have went there if I could have..." instead of "I would have gone".

    Knowing how crazy the subjunctive is with irregular verbs in the Spanish language, and not being able to locate any information on the past subjunctive form of "come", I realize that there could be this rare use of the verbs in the past subjunctive.

    In the above phrases, what was correct? Also, is it EVER correct to say "I would have went" or "I would have came"?

    Thank you very much for the clarification (from a humbled American English speaker),

    ~ Sydni*

  1. heidita's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    Hi Syndi, perfect conditional used in your sentence can only be used with the participle of the verb.

    would+have + participle
    I would have come to New York" which, in truth is bad English
    This is incorrect, as the correct sentence is the one you mentioned.

    "If you would have let me, I would have came to New York"
    If you had let me, I would have come to New York.

    I would have went there ??? if I could have..." instead of "I would have gone".
    I should be very surprised to hear that.
    Last edited by heidita; 05-Mar-2008 at 23:53.


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    #3

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    You have become so accustomed to hearing the atrocious grammar that is so common in America, it seems you are having difficulty telling which from which. I hear it on some of the reality shows, such as Judge Judy - just as you quote: I had went/I would have went. Heidita has steered you correctly:
    I had been
    I had gone
    I would have been
    I would have gone

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    #4

    Re: Past Subjunctive-Heidita

    [quote=heidita;260852]Hi Syndi, perfect conditional used in your sentence can only be used with the infinitive of the verb.

    would+have+infinitive"


    Heidita, I agree with you except that the real form of what I call the 3rd conditional is: would+have+past participle

    As David L mentions it in his post:

    I would have been (<= past participle and not the infinitive)
    i would have gone....

    AL


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    #5

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by emuntalee View Post
    Hi there.

    Hi there, Sydni.

    What I said was, "If you would have let me, I would have came to New York"

    The past participle, which is what is used with modal perfects,

    "I would have eaten/been/jumped/etc,

    is of course, standard English. Some dialects use 'came' for spoken English, which actually makes sense because 'come' is a funny irregular.


    Typically, you would think that the phrase would have been "I would have come to New York" which, in truth is bad English. However, then I recalled that sometimes I have heard people saying "I would have went there if I could have..." instead of "I would have gone".

    Some dialects also use 'went' in these structures. It's nonstandard but that's the way with language. There is a constant levelling in language and speech is at the forefront of this very natural process.

    In the above phrases, what was correct? Also, is it EVER correct to say "I would have went" or "I would have came"?

    If that's what your particular dialect of English uses, then yes, it's fine. Again, it's nonstandard but nonstandard does not mean wrong. For standard English uses, formal writing and such, the standard past participles would be 'gone' and 'come'.


    Sydni*
    Read this. It'll help you understand how language actually works.


    Language Myth #21


    Americans are Ruining English
    For more than 200 years, right up through Prince Charles, people have complained that Americans trash the English language. But is it corruption or simply normal change? John Algeo investigates how both American and British Englishes have evolved. (The research in this essay was first published in 1999.)


    Do You Speak American . What Lies Ahead? . Change . Ruining | PBS

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    #6

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    What Angelika said is very interesting to me.

    So for foreigners who are learning English as a 2nd language, would you have given that information or tried to stay away from it. I am curious.

    NT


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    #7

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by NearThere View Post
    What Angelika said is very interesting to me.

    So for foreigners who are learning English as a 2nd language, would you have given that information or tried to stay away from it. I am curious.

    NT
    Who's Angelika, NT?

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    #8

    Re: Past Subjunctive-Heidita

    Quote Originally Posted by Almegawiz View Post

    Heidita, I agree with you except that the real form of what I call the 3rd conditional is: would+have+past participle

    As David L mentions it in his post:

    I would have been (<= past participle and not the infinitive)
    i would have gone....

    AL
    Jesus! Alme, of course, that was of course what I meant, but I certainly didn't use the correct wording, jeje . I have edited my post fast!!

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    #9

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    Who's Angelika, NT?

    Oops, my bad. I meant you, Sorry about that.

    The 2nd part of your previous message intrigued me, the part about the dialect becoming regular English.......


    Next time I'll pay more attention to who says what, I promise.

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    #10

    Re: Past Subjunctive

    I am intrigued too. I don't think we can consider dialect the wrong use of a verb form.

    A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists: Cockney is a dialect of English.

    If we take this as a definition, I don't think we can consider the given sentence a dialect. I had never seen this usage and I don't think it is anywhere widely spread. I hope not, anyway. The question indicates that the speaker seems to have doubts about verb conjugations.

    This sentence surprised me especially :

    Typically, you would think that the phrase would have been "I would have come to New York" which, in truth is bad English.
    Why should emuntalee consider the grammatically accepted as "correct" sentence incorrect??

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