I thought we would / I though we would have


Senior Member
Hello everyone, maybe it's a silly question but the doubt has been running through my head since ages.
Never have I found a definite answer (surely my fault).
The two options of the same sentence are:

1) I thought we would go to the beach today

2) I thought we would have gone to the beach today

Can you help me understand which is the correct construction once and for all, please ? Thanks.
  • Ilyana

    Senior Member
    My guess would be that the first option is correct (however, I'm not native).

    "I think we will go to the beach today" -> I thought we would go to the beach today (assuming that it is the same day)


    Senior Member
    The first sentence is correct.
    It's all about the consequence of tenses. It's a very important part of what is called "reported speech".
    Basically in the present you'd say: I think we will go to the beach today.
    Now if the first verb (think) is in the past form the other one can't be left as it was either.
    The general rule is: "will" turns into "would", "can" turns into "could", verbs in the present form go into the past form and verbs in the past form go into past perfect.

    The second construction in this case doesn't make sense. It's used for a totally different reason, but follows the consequence of tenses as well.
    It would make sense in a sentence like: I thought we would have gone to the beach by now.
    So you thought something would happen by a certain point in time, but it didn't.

    I really hope this makes sense. If it doesn't or if it's not clear, let me know.


    Senior Member
    Thank you both. AlmostEnglish, your answer does make pretty much sense. In few lines you recapped an entire section of a grammar book. :)
    Thanks again.
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