Elliptic sentences with two auxiliaries (e.g. "I would (have).")


I can contract my sentence when I contradict a statement or reply to a question.

A: I would not trust him.
B: I would. ( I would trust him.)

But in the following sentence, must it always be “would have”, with have? How often are B1 and B2 used?

A: If he had asked me that, I would not have answered him.
B1: I would have.
B2: I would.


Posted 2013-11-19T15:03:12.900

Reputation: 7 310

Ok... just checking... I see what you are saying now. It was confusing because it looks like you are asking how to properly contradict the A statements with the B ones. But you are asking if there is a shorter way of phrasing your contradiction aka contracting your contradiction. The short answer is that would have is past tense, and would is future tense. If you drop the have, you change the tense of the sentence. – Gray – 2013-11-19T16:08:45.463

1I would call this ellipsis or omission. You could ask whether you can omit have or whether you can leave out have. I wouldn't normally use the word contraction to refer to this phenomenon. – snailplane – 2013-11-19T18:23:57.313

I agree with snailboat, especially because contraction already has a meaning in regard to English grammar; combining two words with an apostrophe (') is called a contraction. ex. "can't", "won't", "didn't", "would've", etc. – WendiKidd – 2013-11-19T21:21:01.610

1And the quick answer is: Yes, you must keep “have” in these situations. For BrE, you could even add “done” on the end. – Tyler James Young – 2013-11-19T21:42:47.823



Yes, in answer to your question, you can eliminate have entirely.

If someone says, If he had asked me that, I would not have answered him.

It does very little to change the meaning of the response. Because this is directly preceded by a sentence using would have, it would be mutually understood. The other speaker in question would not likely assume that you meant that you wouldn't trust this person in the future, which would be the only reason you'd need to include have.

This is not proper written grammar, but it's fine in speech (and common).


Posted 2013-11-19T15:03:12.900

Reputation: 2 353


The correct answer is "I would've" with the optional "I would have" when followed by a conjuction. Example:

A: I wouldn't have answered him if he had said that to me B1: I would've. B2: I would have (or would've) if he had been that rude.


Posted 2013-11-19T15:03:12.900

Reputation: 431

Would've is not universally accepted as a contraction, largely due to the fact that it sounds like would of/woulda – Giambattista – 2013-11-29T02:13:07.527

I disagree. Whether you like it or not, when you respond, "I would have, it naturally comes out as "would've", unless you are stressing that you would have done something if something else hadn't happened. – Karen927 – 2013-12-02T18:51:41.133

Yes of course it comes out as would've in relaxed, casual speech. I don't know about you, but I enunciate have when speaking formally. It's not that I don't like it; it's not something I'd teach a learner. It's non-standard, and some style guides forbid it. I can make lots of contraction based on my speech, but I wouldn't teach them to new learners. Otherwise I'd've agreed. Learning's the tricky part; there've been many contractions created in speech that haven't been accepted formally. Should I teach those three contractions too? – Giambattista – 2013-12-02T21:24:55.507

When teaching tag sentences, how do you teach new learners? Do you omit the contractions? If that's the case, they must sound like a bunch of robots. – Karen927 – 2013-12-03T00:48:16.597

No, you are again correct. In fact the opposite is true. I encourage contractions at every turn. But I don't teach substandard contractions initially. As far as this question is concerned, I would, with the proper intonation, would reflect speech just as well. Every single one of those contractions that I mentioned in my previous comment are contractions that I use in informal speech (and sometimes writing to friends and family only). I didn't make them up to pick apart your comment. But where to you draw the line? As I said, I personally don't say would've unless I actually know the person. – Giambattista – 2013-12-03T03:16:26.127

I'm glad we agree : ) I think what I took and still take exception to is the reasoning why "would've" is not allowed. I taught those contractions to my students at all levels and don't think there was ever a problem confusing them with "would've" or "woulda". – Karen927 – 2013-12-06T01:18:35.520

It's not that I personally take exception to these. Do I think you're allowed to teach would've, could've, should've to your students? Of course. Do I? Sometimes. I've even been known to teach the ones in my other comment along with such gems as where're you at? what'd he say?, what've you done?, etc. but I only do that with students who are advanced learners, particularly those inclined toward writing dialog. I brought it up because many of my coworkers object to nonstandard contractions that can be misheard as of instead of 've. Just wanted to make the OP aware of that. – Giambattista – 2013-12-06T05:51:32.217