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Hi, dear members. I have been locked in an argument with a Chinese teacher about the use of "should have thought".
The sentence in question is seemingly from a reference book for preparation of an English test:

Aren't you tired? I should have thought you had done enough today.

I think in this case "should have thought" equals "would have thought", which indicates the speaker is surprised at another guy, who is supposed to be tired but is still vigorous, when he sees the guy is still working. The speaker expected the other guy to be tired but it turns out otherwise. It also indicates the other guy is doing the work of his own volition, not being forced.

But the Chinese teacher insist that "should have thought" means "the speaker should have thought he was tired but actually the speaker didn't", indicating the speaker regrets having been inconsiderate towards the other guy by pushing the guy to do some work although the the guy was already tired.
And he he thinks "would have thought" expresses speculation of the past or subjunctive mood, which is different from "should have thought".

But I have read many threads here and know that "should have thought" is just another way of saying "would have thought", so I disagree with him.

So who is right? Please shed light on this.

Thank you.

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Comments  (Page 2) 

Thank you. So when is "would have thought" just past form of "would thought", used to soften the speaker's assertion?

zuotengdazuo

Thank you. So when is "would have thought" just past form of "would think", used to soften the speaker's assertion?

I can't think of an example of this. (It can be used to further soften "I would think" in the case of a present belief, merging into the case of now doubting the belief, or the belief proving contrary to what is actually observed, as in your original example.)

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Thank you.

I have a example for this "soften" use

Then it turned out the purple flowers were called poison kisses, and Arya got a rash on her arms. Sansa would have thought that might have taught her a lesson, but Arya laughed about it, and the next day she rubbed mud all over her arms like some ignorant bog woman just because her friend Mycah told her it would stop the itching.

I don't know if you agree.

So "would have thought" can have three usages:

1. just a imagination with weak condition

2. contrary to expectations

3. a way of softening the assertion

If I encounter a "would have thought" next time, how do I know which category it falls into?

zuotengdazuoThen it turned out the purple flowers were called poison kisses, and Arya got a rash on her arms. Sansa would have thought that might have taught her a lesson, but Arya laughed about it, and the next day she rubbed mud all over her arms like some ignorant bog woman just because her friend Mycah told her it would stop the itching.

This is another "contrary to expectations" use. It isn't what I thought you meant by "just past form of 'would think', used to soften the speaker's assertion".

Thank you. I see. Then what about my question? How do I tell which category a "would have thought" falls into in a given context?

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zuotengdazuo

Thank you. I see. Then what about my question? How do I tell which category a "would have thought" falls into in a given context?

Only by understanding the speaker's or writer's intended meaning within the context.

GPYOnly by understanding the speaker's or writer's intended meaning within the context.

Thank you. I see.

I have another sentence, which I think might be relevant to our discussion:

The open trap was only a few feet ahead, but the fire was spreading fast, consuming the old wood and dry straw faster than she would have believed.

Is this "would have believed" equivalent to "would have thought" in the sense of "contrary to expectations"? Or it implies a weak condition?

zuotengdazuoThe open trap was only a few feet ahead, but the fire was spreading fast, consuming the old wood and dry straw faster than she would have believed.Is this "would have believed" equivalent to "would have thought" in the sense of "contrary to expectations"? Or it implies a weak condition?

Both really. The "contrary to expectations" meaning does arguably imply a weak condition along the lines of "if she hadn't seen evidence to the contrary". However, this is not something to focus on too much. We understand "would have thought/believed" well enough without explicitly formulating a condition in our minds.

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Thank you. That is crystal clear. But I have another similar sentence to ask about. I shall start a new thread. If you are interested in it, you may answer it.

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