I would have done - British English vs. U.S. English

Discussion in 'English Only' started by prawer, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. prawer Member

    English - US

    As an American, I have a nagging curiosity about conventions of British English --

    In response to a question like, "Would you have gone to the party had you known that she would be there?", is it common for Brits to say "Ya, I would have done."? (I'm specifically interested in the inclusion of the past participle)

    I know that I'm much more likely to say "Yeah, I would have," but when I listen to or watch British media, I think I've noticed the pattern above. Is that right? Is this a real bit of difference between our two flavors of the language?
  2. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Hello Prawer.
    (First of all, I'd be utterly amazed if someone asked me that question in those words, but that's a separate issue:))
    It's certainly common enough in my bit of Britland for people to say the whole kit'n'caboodle*, yes:thumbsup: I'd rather not answer for other parts of the UK as it's one of those grammary things it's difficult to spot in conversation (unlike, say, items of vocabulary). I'll listen out for it:)

    * Well, except for the ya, that is. Maybe you're confusing us with Sweden:D
  3. prawer Member

    English - US
    Thanks for the feedback Ewie!

    Of course I'm curious to hear if some of our other British commenters might say "I would have," and if some of our other American commenters might say "I would have done."
  4. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Oh I wasn't saying we'd only say "I would have done" ~ that's just one of the options available:
    I would
    I would have
    I would've
    I would have done
    I would've done
  5. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Then there's
    "I would have gone.
    I would've gone."
  6. prawer Member

    English - US
    Thanks Julian,

    This brings up an interesting point: "I would have gone" is less alien to me than "I would have done," in response to the question noted in my original post, although it still sounds strange. Maybe it's replacing the verb in the question with the catch-all "done" that confuses my ears.
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I've learnt from previous threads here that including the 'placeholder" do/done is more common in BrE than in AmE.

    It's not something I would have noticed, myself:(.
  8. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Yes, I hear it on British comedies and television series:

    "She might do." where in AE we would typically say "She might."
    "I could do." for our "I could."
  9. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I agree with JamesM; I consider that use of the added do/done (which Americans would almost universally omit) to be as much of an indicator of Britishness in the speaker as would be a confession of a craving for Marmite.
  10. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Yeah I was pulled up on it recently (on here) and I was utterly shocked that people thought it was incorrect.
    I was literally with my jaw hanging down that another speaker thought it was wrong to include an element after the auxiliary in a construction like that.

    I don't remember who the speaker was, but I didn't think he was American, maybe I misremembered.
    But yeah, it seems to be a dividing factor.
  11. susanna76 Senior Member

    Same thing in Sophie Kinsella's book Remember Me?
    "Jennifer and Brad split?" I stare up at her, aghast. "You can't be serious! They can't have done!"

    That "done" in there really caught my attention (this time). It didn't sound American at all, so I figured it was a British thing (and came to check here).
  12. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    And yes, Sophie Kinsella, is English.

    BrE speakers tend to use the place-holder do in response to question or request or to negate some information. Thus: Q: Will you come early to help? A: Can do. (That's what I might say, anyway.) My impression is that this is possible in AmE too? Or maybe I'm thinking of 'No can do', which is certainly AmE.
  13. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    English - US (Midwest)
    "Can do" and "no can do" are both perfectly good AE phrases.

    And thank you susanna, for reviving this thread, as I've been on the verge of asking the same question, based on British books I've been reading. Oddly, though, I first noticed it only five or six years ago, and I don't recall hearing anyone ever say such things ("I would do" vice "I would," &c) during the three years I spent in Scotland....
  14. Havfruen Senior Member

    English - American
    Also "will do" works for me.

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