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'I would like to have done something' or 'I would have liked to do something "?

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  • 'I would like to have done something' or 'I would have liked to do something "?

    Hello everyone,

    First of all, I am sorry if the title seems a bit too direct, I wanted to write something more specific and precise but I was only allowed 85 characters...

    I was wondering if anyone could help with a grammar subtlety I am not sure to get right.
    I am studying with "English Grammar in Use" by Raymond Murphy. On unit 58 he introduces the following structure:
    I would like to have done something = I regret now that I didn't or couldn't do it
    So if I say "I would like to have seen her again", it means "I wish I had seen her". So far, am I right ?

    Is the structure "I would have liked to do something" grammatically correct ? If so, when I say "I would have liked to see her", does it have the same meaning than "I would like to have seen her".

    If they are both correct, I would say that when I say "I would have liked to do something" I am only stating something I would have liked to do if I had had the chance, whereas when I say "I would like to have done something", I am expressing regrets about not doing something.

    Thank you for the help

    Chris.
    Last edited by Christophe31; 10-09-2018, 08:27 AM.

  • #2
    Yes. "I would like to have seen her again" means "I wish I had seen her"/
    Also "I would have like to do something" is correct. It means, in the past, you wish you had done something.
    Yes "I would have liked to see her" and "I would like to have seen her" are the same

    "I would have like to do something" and "I would like to have done something" mean the same thing, and both express regret about not doing something in the past. They are just different ways to word the same sentence

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    • #3
      Thank you Laura for your help ! Is there one structure more common than the other ? I mean, which one sounds more natural to you ?

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      • #4
        Firstly, the title of your topic is perfectly fine and obvious

        There is actually a subtle but significant difference between "I would like to have done something" and "I would have liked to do something".
        • "I would have liked to do something" - tends to convey the regret of not doing the action as something that is presented in a factual manner.
        • "I would like to have done something" - tends to express the regret as something that has repercussions right now such as feeling emotions such as sadness for not having performed the action.

        Americans would mainly use "I would have liked to do something" whereas "I would like to have done something" is much more common in British English.

        Also, many American native English speakers don't get the differences of shade of meaning when using different modal and other
        auxiliary verbs and tend to think that different constructions "have an identical meaning".

        Murphy is much more slanted towards British English - hence he introduces the structure "I would like to have done something". In many American English learning texts, they might not even consider a structure of the form "I would like to have done something".

        A third variant is also possible - "I would have liked to have done something". This conveys both the factualness and the emotional regret of not having done something. I've very rarely heard American English speakers use this sort of construction in a natural manner.
        Last edited by aussieinbg; 10-10-2018, 09:10 AM. Reason: Grammar Error - even native speakers make them sometimes :)

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        • #5
          Hello Shaun,

          Thank you for your clear explanation, in fact thank you both. I think I understand better the nuance between the two structures.

          Shaun, I see you are learning french, if I can help in anything don't hesitate. "A charge de revanche" as we say in french

          Chris

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          • #6
            A pleasure! Thanks for your kind offer, but at the moment no time to study French too seriously.

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