had you done vs if you had done

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Madrid001

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello!

Can you please tell me if ''Had you done that...'' and '' If you had done that...'' mean the same thing? For example:

- If you had done that she wouldn't have gotten mad at you.

- Had you done that she wouldn't have gotten mad at you.

I understand the structure ''Had you done...'' is more formal perhaps? I would appreciate it if you could explain this to me.

Thank you
 
  • figgles

    Senior Member
    American English
    I would say that "Had you done" is more formal than "if you had done that" in conversational American English.
    Yes, formal -- almost too formal. Almost enough that if you said that to a peer or to an elder, you might be considered rude and/or condescending. If you talk about yourself ("had I known that ...") then it just sounds formal.

    You probably shouldn't say, "Had you <verb>" unless you are talking to a child.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Had you done that is formal in the sense that it belongs (perhaps?) more to written English than spoken English.
    It also appears to be a less common word order.

    But these are somewhat subjective opinions. I don't understand why it should be described as rude or condescending. I see no difference in meaning compared with If you had done that.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    It is often used in a passive-aggressive manner, e2efour, in American English. "Had you done your job correctly we wouldn't be in this position" is much more shaming, in my experience, than "If you had done your job correctly we wouldn't be in this position".
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    "Had you done that" does not seem particularly formal to me, or condescending. In Arkansas we use it regularly in conversations.

    Note that in current English "had you done that" is always subjunctive whereas "if you had done that" requires context to tell us whether it is meant as indicative or subjunctive.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    To me, they both imply that you didn't do "that".
    I would say that either may be used in a context in which you didn't do that.

    My point is that "if you had done that" can be used in some contexts in which "had you done that" does not fit.

    "You may have written that letter, but I would expect to see less ink left in the bottle if you had.":tick:
    "You may have written that letter, but I would expect to see less ink left in the bottle had you done it.":tick:

    "I didn't know if you had done that.":tick:
    "I didn't know had you done that.":cross:
     
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