Past Subjunctive

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emuntalee

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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*
 

heidita

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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.
 
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David L.

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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
 

Almegawiz

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Re: Past Subjunctive-Heidita

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
 

riverkid

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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
 

NearThere

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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
 

riverkid

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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?
 

heidita

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Re: Past Subjunctive-Heidita

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 :lol:. I have edited my post fast!! :oops:
 

NearThere

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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.:)
 

heidita

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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??
 

NearThere

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Yes, Heidita. Like I said...


this is a very interesting discussion for me. I would not have thought this:

Typically, you would think that the phrase would have been "I would have come to New York" which, in truth is bad English.

which is quite the opposite to what we were taught at school. But I, being the non-native speaker, am in no position to say it's wrong. And this position was further backed up by Riverkid:

Again, it's nonstandard but nonstandard does not mean wrong.

So is there a line we can draw between what is right and what is wrong? Or should we learn to be more forgiving and give more room for any certain language to evolve? According to this:

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.)


And where should grammar stand in all of this? Treat grammar as general guidelines or difinitive rules?

I don't know, I'm just curious. And what about for people learnig English as a 2nd language, is this something that should be noted to them? Would it be too much information? and how much is too much? Then again, on the flip side of it, how much grammar is too much?

But coming from a die-hard moderationist (that a word?), I could be bias.

NT



 

riverkid

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What riverkid 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

Absolutely, NT. ESLs have to function in the real world of English and they're going to hear a great deal of stuff that ain't in the textbooks. They have to learn when and where these nonstandard forms are used.

Of course, these are for more advanced students, not beginners.
 

riverkid

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This sentence surprised me especially :

Emuntalee wrote:
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??

It surprised me too, Heidita. I thought that perhaps she just got confused. I guess only Emuntalee can clear this up.
 
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