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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#33), by Dennis Oliver


Modal Verbs #33:
Individual Modal Verbs


The English modal verbs are often challenging for learners
of English. This happens for many reasons, including both
grammar and meaning.

In this Hint, we'll look at would have.



Would Have



Would have ( + the past participle of a verb) is used when
referring to
past unreal conditions (situations in the past
that didn't actually happen, weren't true, or were hypothetical).
Would have is frequently contracted to would've.

The negative form of would have is would not have
(which is very often contracted to wouldn't have).


If you had asked me, I would've helped you.

(I didn't help you because you didn't ask me.)

If Julia had had enough money, she
bought a car.

(Julia didn't buy a car because she didn't have
enough money.)

If Fred hadn't drunk so much coffee,
wouldn't have been so nervous

(Fred was very nervous because he had
drunk a lot of coffee.)

If I hadn't meant what I said, I
wouldn't have
said it.

(I said what I did because that was exactly
what I meant to say.)



Special Notes:

1.   In relaxed, casual speech, would've often sounds
something like "WOODa." This pronunciation is
common in speaking, but
would have or would've
should be used in writing.
2.   In relaxed, casual speech, wouldn't have often
sounds something like "WOODena." While this
pronunciation is also common in speaking, the
more conventional forms
would not have or
wouldn't have should be used in writing.
3.   In the examples above, could have and might
are also possible, but if they are used,
the meanings are different.


Next: more on modal verbs

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