I would have liked to see John before he left for Canada if I hadn't been ill.

stephenlearner

Senior Member
Chinese
I would have liked to see John before he left for Canada if I hadn't been ill.

Does this sentence mean I wanted to see John or not? To me, it means I wanted to see John, whether I was ill or not.

Thanks.
 
  • stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    This sentence says that your illness prevented you from liking to see John.
    1. By liking, do you mean wanting or enjoying?

    2. If my illness prevented me from climbing a mountain, that means I did not go to climb the mountain.
    Likewise, if my illness prevented me from liking to see John, does it mean I did not like to see John?
     

    CaptainZero

    Senior Member
    English
    Let's say that John is a person who you like a lot, and because of that, you're always happy to see him. You always like to see him because you like him. That's a more or less permanent situation. If you're ill, that doesn't stop you from liking him, or from liking to see him, or from wanting to see him. That's why it sounds odd to say:
    I would have liked to see John before he left for Canada if I hadn't been ill.
    Your illness may stop you from seeing him, but it probably wouldn't stop you from the more permanent situation of liking or wanting to see him.

    Are we getting somewhere here? :)
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    1. By liking, do you mean wanting or enjoying?

    2. If my illness prevented me from climbing a mountain, that means I did not go to climb the mountain.
    Likewise, if my illness prevented me from liking to see John, does it mean I did not like to see John?
    "I would like to do something." means "I want to do it. I have a desire to do it."
    The reason that you want to see John may not be because you like John or that you like seeing John.
    I hate John, but I would like to see him tomorrow so he can sign the divorce papers. I don't like John, I don't like seeing John and I don't like getting divorced, but I need to get this done so I want to / would like to do it.
     

    Cet

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Hi stephenlearner,

    To me it reads like you didn't want to see him because you were ill. You can't really use this combination (if ___, I would have liked/wanted) without (possibly) giving your listener the impression that you did not want to see John because you were ill. You would have to get rid of the conditional altogether, or use a different combination:

    I wanted to see John, but I was ill. (no conditional)

    If I hadn't been ill, I would have seen John. (no "want/like")

    I would have liked to see John before he left for Canada, but I was ill, so I couldn't. (no "if")
     
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