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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 8) 

Thank you very much.

GPYHowever, plain modal might be used too, and then we must understand from the context that it is referring only to a past action.

But I'm afraid this statement might not be in keeping with what you previously told me, as in the White Fawn example, where we can't use plain modal in the subordinate clause, as you said. If there is no suggestion that it could be carried out now or in the future --- the event is decided --- I'm afraid plain modal is not possible.

1. 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.
(Game of Thrones) (to say "might teach" seems wrong)

2. “Ser Willem Darry is fled to Dragonstone, with your queen and Prince Viserys. I thought you might have sailed with him.” (seems not OK to say "you might sail")

zuotengdazuoBut I'm afraid this statement might not be in keeping with what you previously told me, as in the White Fawn example, where we can't use plain modal in the subordinate clause, as you said

OK, probably it was not correct to say that plain modal could never be used in that kind of circumstance, if I said that. As in your latest examples (1) and (2), the plain modal might conceivably be used, and, if it is, we have to understand that it is a past action from context. However, perfect modal may be less prone to potential ambiguity or misunderstanding.

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Thank you. After thinking further, I think I can extend your rule to this:

On the one hand, when "would have thought/had thought/thought" is affirmative, if the speaker is referring to a past action, and there is no suggestion that it could be carried out now or in the future, or the past action/event is decided/closed, then perfect modal may be preferred; (as in the White Fawn example)

if the past action has just happened recently, being still likely to change, or is currently on-going, then perfect modal and plain modal are both OK. (as in the Queen and dwarf's pennies example)

On the other hand, when "would have thought/had thought/thought" is negative or the main clause is "who would have thought", then it's more likely that we use plain modal to refer to a finished past action. Perfect modal is also OK in this case, where the sense of the action's being all over is stronger.

(example: A: Can you believe that? Last week your friend Jack slandered you by saying you were misconducting yourself with others!

B: Oh, Jesus. I would have never thought/had never thought/never thought he would do this behind my back. )

I'm not sure if my version of the rule makes sense. Do you endorse it?

zuotengdazuoI'm not sure if my version of the rule makes sense. Do you endorse it?

One comment I would make is that I'm not sure there is any difference in this respect between "I would never have thought" etc. and "I would have thought" etc. It seems to me that "I would never have thought he would do this behind my back" may refer to present/ongoing action as well as past action, no more or less than a comparable affirmative sentence.

Thank you so much.

GPY
It seems to me that "I would never have thought he would do this behind my back" may refer to present/ongoing action as well as past action,

I knew this but I forgot to add it to my conclusion.

GPY
no more or less than a comparable affirmative sentence.

1. What does this mean? Do you mean the affirmative counterpart "I would have thought he would do this behind my back" may also refer to present/ongoing action as well as past action?

2. I once asked about the difference between "How could you do X" and "How could you have done X" on another forum, and I was told the difference is the former refers to an action which has a duration, while the latter refers to an one-off action. So I think we can apply this difference to "would have thought/had thought/thought" in question --- we use perfect modal in the subordinate clause to suggest an one-off event in the past (as in the White Fawn example) while use plain modal to refer to an event which has a duration (began in the past and can possibly continue to now or future). Does it make sense?

3. I still think "would never have thought/had never thought/never thought" is a bit different than its affirmative counterpart in that it seems there is a tendency to use plain modal in the subordinate clause to refer to an one-off event in the past. It is the same with "Who would have thought", e.g

A: Can you believe that? Your friend Fred just quit his job and went to Africa.

B: Oh. I would never have thought he could have done/could do such a thing./Who would have thought he could do such a thing?

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Who+would+have+thought%3F

He already quit the job and went to Africa so the event is closed: it's unlikely he would do it again!

While in the Queen example, it likely that Tyrion sends the squire back to send for the Queen.

Makes sense?

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zuotengdazuo2. I once asked about the difference between "How could you do X" and "How could you have done X" on another forum, and I was told the difference is the former refers to an action which has a duration, while the latter refers to an one-off action.

This isn't always true. E.g. you might hear this sort of thing said:

I hear you reported your own brother to the police. How could you do that?

zuotengdazuo3. I still think "would never have thought/had never thought/never thought" is a bit different than its affirmative counterpart in that it seems there is a tendency to use plain modal in the subordinate clause to refer to an one-off event in the past.

One would need to look at many examples of usage and see whether there is more tendency to do this with the negative pattern than the affirmative pattern. It's not a question that I can readily answer, but if you feel there is a difference here then I can't rule it out.

Thank you, GPY.

I have discussed this with others in another thread. It seems the difference I've been mulling over between plain modal and perfect modal in subordinate clause isn't sharp.

I mean except the White Fawn example, in all the other examples I have asked about in this and other threads, plain modal and perfect modal are interchangeable without notable differences. (assuming that the expected action did not happen)

Even in this example, which is quite similar to the White Fawn example, we can interchangeably say "might have taught" and "might teach".

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.

So I feel I can only think in the kinds of sentences we have been talking about, plain modal and perfect modal in subordinate are very frequently interchangeable. The differences I've been thinking about probably don't exist (e.g. the difference between affirmative pattern and negative pattern).

But then I have no clue why the White Fawn example is so special an example where we can't say "would teach".

I know you have explained it previously many times:

GPYThe point here is not whether it happened a long time ago or recently, but whether the matter is finished and decided. In the White Fawn example, as I understand it, Merret has already met or had some association with the woman, and no present or future teaching can change that. The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting to have any effect. That is why "would have taught" is used. It doesn't matter how long ago the meeting took place.

Perhaps it has nothing to do with whether the event is finished or decided (otherwise we can't explain why in other examples we can use the two constructions interchangeably). The reason might be the same thing has happened to the poor guy Merret twice, with the first time not having taught him a lesson. So we need present perfect to show the order of the two meetings with the two female leaders: the past meeting with Fawn Fawn is anterior to the another (recently) past meeting with Lady Stoneheart.

I think it explains why the White Fawn example is so special.

Do all these make sense?

zuotengdazuoSo we need present perfect to show the order of the two meetings with the two female leaders: the past meeting with Fawn Fawn is anterior to the another (recently) past meeting with Lady Stoneheart.

On this point, in my original reply, I wrote "The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting [i.e. Merrett's meeting with 'A woman'] to have any effect. That is why 'would have taught' is used." Could you clarify for me what you see as the essential difference between what I said originally and what you now proposing? Remember that I don't know anything about the story of the White Fawn incident beyond the couple of lines that you have quoted. I'm not sure that Lady Stoneheart has even been mentioned before.

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Thank you.

GPYOn this point, in my original reply, I wrote "The teaching would have to have preceded the meeting [i.e. Merrett's meeting with 'A woman'] to have any effect. That is why 'would have taught' is used." Could you clarify for me what you see as the essential difference between what I said originally and what you now proposing?
GPY [i.e. Merrett's meeting with 'A woman']

[i.e. Merrett's meeting with 'A woman'] = his recent meeting with Lady Stoneheart

I'm not questioning your original reply in this regard. You said the same thing as I did. I'm just questioning this statement:

GPYThe point here is not whether it happened a long time ago or recently, but whether the matter is finished and decided.

I don't think the underlined part can justify the use of perfect modal is used in the subordinate clause. For example,

Sansa would have thought that might have taught her a lesson...

Although the event "taught her a lesson" is finished and decided, we still can say "might teach" and "might have taught" interchangeably. Why? I think it's because only one past event (teach a lesson) is mentioned. By contrast, in the White Fawn example, two past events are referred to --- his (recent) meeting with Lady Stoneheart and his meeting with White Fawn years ago, so the order of the two events needs to by shown by perfect modal.

So I think I can reach such a conclusion: unless two or more past events are referred to, which makes perfect modal mandatory, we can very frequently use plain modal and perfect modal interchangeably with the same meaning after "would have thought/had thought/thought" to refer to a past event, be it one-off or durative. If the event is still ongoing, we prefer plain modal, although perfect modal is also possible, with subtle nuances, as in the dwarf's pennies example. And with all other things being equal, the choice of modal patterns after "would have thought/had thought/thought" has nothing to do with whether "would have thought/had thought/thought" is negative or affirmative. So we can say "He would never have thought White Fawn would have taught Merret" but not "He would never have thought White Fawn would teach Merret".

The above is assuming that the expected action did not happen (contrary to expectation).

This is my best shot at understanding the construction. Does it make sense now?

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