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Dec 16 2009   6:50PM GMT

Would have, could have, should have — in a subjunctive mood

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
If I ______ known more about security when I started this job, I could have avoided some problems.
a. would have
b. had


Answer: b

Explanation:
Would have, could have, should have – it’s all about the subjunctive mood (which I always think sounds like a good title for a jazz tune). This sentence demonstrates the subjunctive conditional: If ____, then _____.

Oxford Journals offers an article on the subjective conditional.

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