would have known

vlazlo

Senior Member
English, U.S.A.
Ok, patience with me foreros... A while back I was studying Spanish past tenses and was having a hard time with one in particular as I was trying to translate directly from English and my English was off. I was trying to translate something like: If I would have known you were coming I would have made dinner. Anyway, to make a long story longer I was informed that in English (yes I am a native speaker) we use "had i known" instead of "if I would have known" and that "would have known" is a common mistake. Ok, help me out here. Honestly, I'm not aware that I have ever heard anyone use "had I known" in common speech where I live (not saying it sounds wrong but it does sound archaic to me and yes, yes I know it is correct English). I can accept that I make mistakes in my own language, God knows, but I'm still confused. If I can't say, "would have known" how do I express the following: "I would have known to prepare supper if you would have told me."? I'm probably not catching something here, can someone please explain this as I don't want to sound like a shlemil. Thanks.
 
  • Bienvenidos

    Senior Member
    USA
    English
    I think the more common expression is:

    If I'd known that you were coming.......

    I'll send you the Spanish translation by PM.

    Bien
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree that "had I known" sounds a little stiff to most Americans. I'd usually say "If I had known, I would have...."
    The corresponding version for your second sentence, then, is "I would have known to prepare supper if you had told me."
    These structures are parallel to the ones in French, so I assume that the same is true for Spanish.

    By the way, I think it's spelled schlemeil. I don't think you sound like one, regardless. It is a very common mistake.
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    2006/X/Y (Any time before now, e.g. 2006/1/1)

    Jane was at home.
    Mary was visiting Jane unexpectedly.
    Jane didn't prepare anything because she didn't know that Mary would come.

    2006/5/20
    Mary: I am sorry about last time that I didn't notice you in advance.
    Jane: If I had known that you were coming, I would have made dinner.

    "If clauses" can't have "would/could, etc, auxiliary".

    "Had I known" = "If I had known"

    how do I express the following: "I would have known to prepare supper if you would have told me."?
    Delete "would" and change "have" into "had" in if clause, then it would be a correct sentence.

    :)
     

    COLsass

    Senior Member
    vlazlo said:
    Ok, patience with me foreros... A while back I was studying Spanish past tenses and was having a hard time with one in particular as I was trying to translate directly from English and my English was off. I was trying to translate something like: If I would have known you were coming I would have made dinner. Anyway, to make a long story longer I was informed that in English (yes I am a native speaker) we use "had i known" instead of "if I would have known" and that "would have known" is a common mistake. Ok, help me out here. Honestly, I'm not aware that I have ever heard anyone use "had I known" in common speech where I live (not saying it sounds wrong but it does sound archaic to me and yes, yes I know it is correct English). I can accept that I make mistakes in my own language, God knows, but I'm still confused. If I can't say, "would have known" how do I express the following: "I would have known to prepare supper if you would have told me."? I'm probably not catching something here, can someone please explain this as I don't want to sound like a shlemil. Thanks.

    The funny thing is that Spanish speakers also have their little quirks in this area. (Si hubiera...hubiera instead of si hubiera...habria). They kind of do the opposite seeming to prefer "if I had know, I had fixed you supper.")

    I guess I come from Proper-Speech Station because I recognize "If I would've" as something my grandparents' generation would say. They say lots of cute things. :)

    It seems to me the mistake might've evolved from--If I'da known you were coming since the apostrophe D stands in for would and had, so when a speaker finally decides to elongate that contraction they just opt for whichever one their little heart fancies.

    I'd love to go (I would love to go)
    I'd told him time and again. (I had told him)
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    some where out there is a song:
    If I knew you were coming I'd ha' baked a cake..AE of course.
    I too would use if "I knew you were coming...." but also
    "Had I known you were coming.........."
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    petereid said:
    some where out there is a song:
    If I knew you were coming I'd ha' baked a cake..AE of course.
    I too would use if "I knew you were coming...." but also
    "Had I known you were coming.........."
    "If I knew you are coming" is different from "Had I known you were coming".

    Time: Right now

    Jane is at home.
    Mary is visiting Jane unexpectedly.
    Jane doesn't prepare anything because she doesn't know that Mary is coming.

    Jane says to mary, 'If I knew you are coming...'

    My English is not good enough to express the precise meaning about what I want to say, therefore there may be mistakes in my sentences.:)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    jokker said:
    "If I knew you are coming" is different from "Had I known you were coming".

    Time: Right now

    Jane is at home.
    Mary is visiting Jane unexpectedly.
    Jane doesn't prepare anything because she doesn't know that Mary is coming.

    Jane says to mary, 'If I knew you are coming...'

    My English is not good enough to express the precise meaning about what I want to say, therefore there may be mistakes in my sentences.:)
    Jokker - I can't imagine anyone saying "if I knew you are coming" - I don't think that is a possible tense combination in English. Do you mean "if I had known you were coming"?
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    petereid said:
    some where out there is a song:
    If I knew you were coming I'd ha' baked a cake..AE of course.
    I too would use if "I knew you were coming...." but also
    "Had I known you were coming.........."
    I'd use "if I'd known you were coming I'd have baked a cake" eg pluperfect (as is "had I known you were coming"). I see from googling that you quote the song correctly - it still seems strange to me!!
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    One problem at least two of us are flirting with in this thread is to offer the "if I'd known" construction without pointing out that "I'd" here means "I had."

    I think the fact that "I'd" also means "I would" (but not here) is one reason people throw that extra "would" into if-then constructions.

    The if-clause calls for the subjunctive-- which is often clipped and replaced with the simple past. So "If I'd (I had) known you were coming" becomes "If I knew you were coming"-- technically incorrect but in use so overwhelmingly it is convincingly called the preferred form by people who believe the subjunctive is dead in English.

    The then-clause takes what's just as commonly called the "conditional," the "would" verb. I have argued that this is the subjunctive form of "will," as can be seen in analogous forms of the same sentences:

    Indicative mood: "If I find out you are coming I will bake a cake."

    Subjunctive mood: "If I'd known you were coming, I'd (I would) have baked a cake.

    I still contend (controversially but with little rebuttal so far) that this use of "would" is more simply explained as the subjunctive of contingency, (or conjecture or conditionality) and that a special "conditional tense (or mood) doesn't exist in English.

    The whole thing has been a sleight of nomenclature by grammarians. May they rot in after-school detention.
    .
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    There must be a time limit for editing posts.

    In my previous post I made the same lapse at the end of it that I started out talking about in the first place.

    Subjunctive mood: "If I'd known you were coming, I'd (I would) have baked a cake."

    should read:

    "If I'd (I had) known you were coming, I'd (I would) have baked a cake."
    .
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    timpeac said:
    Jokker - I can't imagine anyone saying "if I knew you are coming" - I don't think that is a possible tense combination in English. Do you mean "if I had known you were coming"?
    You are right.;) My mistake.:p

    What I tried to say is --
    If I knew --> In fact, I don't know
    you are coming --> Truth. You do come.

    But this is strange and may be(Edit:is) wrong in real life.

    For instance, Tim you are visiting me unexpectedly. I am surprised. Normally, I would say, 'If I had know you were coming, I would have...', because the time you 'are coming' is earlier than the time when I see you.
     

    Mr Bones

    Senior Member
    España - Español
    petereid said:
    some where out there is a song:
    If I knew you were coming I'd ha' baked a cake..AE of course.
    I too would use if "I knew you were coming...." but also
    "Had I known you were coming.........."


    Hello. I've always wondered if you use "Had I known..." in every day speech, because I've been taught that it's a very formal structure, more suitable for writing. Maybe there is a difference between AE and BE here...

    So, would you say "had I known you were going to come back so late, I would've gone to bed earlier" to your son, for instance?

    Thank you, Bones.
     

    petereid

    Senior Member
    english
    most likely:
    "If I'd known you were going to come back so late, I would've gone to bed earlier"
    But if he'd thrown in an excuse to start with I would have said:-Had I known that, I'd have gone to bed earlier.
    But that's in our family, other families seem to have their own set phrases.
     

    Mr Bones

    Senior Member
    España - Español
    petereid said:
    most likely:
    "If I'd known you were going to come back so late, I would've gone to bed earlier"
    But if he'd thrown in an excuse to start with I would have said:-Had I known that, I'd have gone to bed earlier.
    But that's in our family, other families seem to have their own set phrases.

    Hello, pete. Very interesting answer! So, I can gather from your example that this inversion of the order, eliminating the if, is a way of emphasizing. The first choice is more neutral and the second one is more likely to convey your surprise for your son's excuse. Have I caught it right? If so, I think it's a most valuable nuance. I'll borrow it from your familiy's habits :). Thank you. Bones.
     
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