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Hi dear teachers. I'd like to get some help. Would + Perfect Infinitive is generally used whan you are assuming or guessing that something is true, because you have good reasons for thinking it. Is it the most way of using it?

"You know I think Ricky killed Debbie. He must have or wouldn't have confessed to it"

It really put me on the spot. With "must have killed" the speaker has a clear and strong evidence or confidence that Ricky confessed to doing it, hasn't he?

With "wouldn't have confessed to" there is some kind of vagueness and doubt in his mind, and he thinks it's possible but not necessary true, he has some good reasons and just makes prediction, hasn't he?

How can those survive side by side over there?

Thanks in advance.

F.
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Comments  
I wouldn't exactly call it vague. He proposes a line of reasoning. (If A, then B.) He may follow it up with a question, "Don't you agree?" The statement itself is quite positive.

"If Ricky had not killed Debbie he would not have confessed to it. Since he did confess to it, then he must have killed her." The doubt would come in a separate statement. "At least, that's the way it seems to me."

When you say something like, "I don't think he would have stolen from his best friend," the doubt resides in the "I don't think" rather than in the "would have stolen."

"He would not have stolen from his best friend" does not express any doubt. If you preface it with "IMHO," that's a different story.
Fandorin"You know I think Ricky killed Debbie. He must have or wouldn't have confessed to it"
Here's the meaning:

The only possible conclusion is that he (has) killed Debbie. Otherwise (=if he had not killed her), he would not have confessed to it (as, in fact, he did).

This combination is common as mud in explaining one's reasoning about a past action or event. or means if not or otherwise in these. And your guess as to the meaning of would have is not correct here. would have is used in this pattern as a counterfactual -- to say the opposite of what really did happen and is known to have happened.

Samantha must have left the house in a great hurry. Otherwise the oven would have been turned off. (The speaker notes that Samantha left in a hurry without turning off the oven before she left. If she hadn't been in such a hurry, she would have turned the oven off.)

The hunt must have been successful, or the hunters wouldn't have looked so happy.
(The speaker notes how happy the hunters were. If the hunt had been unsuccessful, they would not have looked so happy.)

Jane's husband must have taken the Toyota to work that day, or she wouldn't have driven the kids to school in the Ford. (She almost always takes the kids to school in the Toyota.)

They must have had one of their less talented assistant chefs on duty that night, or your meal would not have been so bad as you say it was.

Bob must have been very depressed, or he wouldn't have killed himself.

The book must have been very high on the shelf, or the librarian would not have gone to get the ladder.

Ken must have finally proposed, or Melissa wouldn't have been wearing that engagement ring.

Irma must have got a great settlement from the divorce, or she wouldn't have been driving that luxury car.


... ad infinitum

Let me know if you still have questions.

CJ
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"You know I think Ricky killed Debbie. He must have or wouldn't have confessed to it"
I agree with Avangi and Jim. The sentence suggests this to me:
He confessed, so it must actually be true that he killed her. If he had not killed her, he would not have confessed to it.
FandorinWould + Perfect Infinitive is generally used whan you are assuming or guessing that something is true, because you have good reasons for thinking it.
This is a slightly different usage. Here it's clear that an opinion is being offered, not a line of reasoning as illustrated in my previous post. Again, however, a counterfactual element accompanies would have.

It's too bad that Larry never showed up at the party last night. He would have enjoyed it.
It's probably just as well that Darlene didn't enter the contest. I'm sure she wouldn't have won anyway.


CJ
I've grasped it. Thank you so much Avangi, CalifJim and Yankee. Emotion: smile

Let's leave the must + Perfect Infinitive. It seems to be done with.

CalifJimAnd your guess as to the meaning of would have is not correct here.
So, Could I use it in other cases? As I can say so, Would+Perfect Infinitive is a partly usage of third condition:

Jack wouldn't have acted this way [if he hadn't been forced to defend himself].
(He had to act so and he did, for example because of curcimstances)

But can I use it when I express my opinion on past events? Not to be unsubstantiated, I provide some examples:

Mr.Smith wouldn't have broken down that chair. (I don't belive he acted so). Is it OK?

I would have thouhgt it's the Army which should appease the rebellion.
(It was my opinion, but there were also some doubts. It refers to past, isn't it?)

Generally, would you use this structure in a way I mentioned in my first post? I came across it while looking at Collins Cobuild dictionary and now I can't find another source that provodes me in the same way.
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FandorinSo, Could I use it in other cases?
Yes. Perhaps you posted before I finished my post on this. See my previous post above.
FandorinMr.Smith wouldn't have broken down that chair. (I don't belive he acted so). Is it OK?
Yes. Good example. That's the idea. It's an opinion. You don't know whether he has broken the chair, but you know Mr. Smith well enough to have an opinion about this matter. It's not connected to a line of reasoning here. It's not evidence related to a "must have" conclusion, as shown below, where you know for certain that he broke the chair.

Mr. Smith must have been really angry or he wouldn't have broken that chair.

CJ
FandorinMr.Smith wouldn't have broken down that chair. (I don't belive he acted so). Is it OK?
I would expect "Mr. Smith couldn't have broken that chair." to be used to express a logical conclusion about the impossibility of something, and is more or less a vehement opposite of this: "Mr. Smith must have broken the chair."
FandorinI would have thouhgt it's the Army which should appease the rebellion
First of all, I'd reword that a bit, perhaps like this: "I would have thought it was the Army which should quiet/subdue/put down the rebellion" (or "appease the rebels").

Perhaps this will illustrate the meaning of "I would have thought":

- If you hadn't informed me that the police are responsible for doing that, I would have thought it was the army's responsibility.
Thank you very much , Jim. Emotion: smile
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