Would, Would Have, Would Have Had | Advanced English Grammar Lesson


Third Conditional – The Difference Between Would, Would Have and Would Have Had

Have you ever wanted to use “would,” “would have,” and “would have had,” in English conversation, but weren’t sure how to use them? This English lesson teaches how to use these.

The third conditional tense describes something that did not happen, but could have happened given the right conditions. When composing this kind of sentence, you will have two sections: the first section is an “if” clause and the second one is the main clause. The “if” clause in the third conditional tense must be in the past perfect tense form. While the main clause will use the perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional tense.

Let’s break down how to use each one of them. 


When to use “Would” 

Let’s start with “Would”. Would can be used at any time,  and it is used to express desires. It can also be used as the past tense of “will.” It sometimes denotes a polite preference or a polite way to request something.


Conditional Tense Examples with Would:

“I would like to learn to speak English fluently.”

“He would like to try something new.”

“I would not be surprised if got lost, with those confusing directions.”

“I would rather jump off a cliff than eat a bug!” 

“Would you go cliff-diving again?” 

“How long do you think would this program take? I have another event to attend.” 

In other situations, it would be more natural to use “I’d,” instead of “I would.” Similarly, “he’d”, “she’d”, “we’d” and “they’d” are more natural sounding in conversations. This tends to be a little more casual. And this is more commonly used by native English speakers. 

Besides polite requests or desires, we can also use “would” to show conditional tense, or something that is conditional upon another idea.

Here are some examples:

“I’d like a cup of coffee, please.”

“I’d stay quiet, if I were you.”

“He’d never hurt you.”

“I’d never do that again, it was so scary!” 

“He told me he’d rather live near the beach than spend his time in the mountains.” 

“But she told me she’d rather set up a home near her parents farm.”

“They’d never let her go to that party.” 

“We’d like to visit you over the summer!” 

“I’d wear something like this to my wedding day!” 


When to use “Would Have”

“Would have” without a past participle (see below) is simply the conditional tense, plus the verb “to have.” It is used to express an unreal or untrue idea, that would or could be true if something else were true.

For example, we can say:

“I would have more money if I didn’t buy so many pairs of new shoes!” –> The reality is that I bought many new pairs of shoes and therefore do not have money.

“I would have a better job if I had graduated with an MBA degree.” –> The reality is that I did not graduate with an MBA degree, and so I do not have a good job.

“You would have health problems if you were a smoker.” –> The reality is that I am not a smoker and I do have good health.


When to use “Would Have Had” 

“Would have had” is a type 3 conditional phrase that is used for situations that did not happen – an unreal, past situation. It’s used to describe a situation that “would have” happened if another situation were to take place.

It talks about an action or activity that did not take place, but would definitely have transpired if the right condition had occurred first. 

So, this is when you can use your main clause and your if clause, as mentioned a few paragraphs above. Let me give you some examples to show you what I mean. 


Third Conditional Tense Examples with Would Have:

“I would have done it if I knew I had to.”

“He would have been more careful with it if he knew it was so fragile.”

“She would have never eaten that crayfish if she knew that she were allergic.”* It is correct so say “if she knew that she were allergic,” but often native speakers say “if she knew that she was allergic.”

“Had I known you were coming, I would have cooked your favorite dish.” 

“She told me she would have said yes, if only you had asked her to go out with you.” 

“You know, I think he would have bought you that ring, if only you did not start that huge fight with him.” 

“If they had only saved their money instead of spending it every day in the casinos, they would have enough to send their son to college.” 

“We would have called you immediately, if we had known that you didn’t need some time to settle down first.” 

“You should have told me! I would have taken that trip with you, if you had given me enough notice.” 


Remember, you can use the concise version “I’d”, “they’d”, “we’d” and so on, for a more casual and natural-sounding English way of speaking. 

“I’d have bought those for you had I known you had been looking f0r them!” 

” They’d have taken the train if they had known it would be much faster.” 

“I’d have walked instead if I had known the traffic would be this horrible!” 

“If I had known she was not coming, I’d have skipped this soiree.” 

“If the timing was right, we’d have scheduled that trip.” 



Another Third Conditional Tense: “Would have had”

“Would have had” – “Would have,” along with the past participle, “had,” can but used in situations expressing something that must have happened, but didn’t because conditions were different. 

Another way to use it to express possession or ownership, supposedly to have happened in the past, but again, didn’t push through. 

The “if” clause paired with “would have had” is in past perfect tense.

In order to sound more natural, native English speakers usually shorten “would have” to “would’ve.” It sounds far more natural to use “would’ve” in most situations.

On another note, you can further shorten it to make “woulda,” which only used in casual situations. Depending on the formality of your workplace, you might want to stick to “would’ve” to sound more professional.


Conditional Perfect Examples with Would Have Had:

“I would have had a puppy if only my parents had thought I was responsible.”

“I would have had a lot of money if I hadn’t wasted it on nonsense.”

“He would’ve had a difficult time with this test if he hadn’t studied so hard.”

“I would’ve had a chance to talk to her if I hadn’t left the party early.”

“They would have had a house by now if they had saved more money.” 

“She would’ve had health problems by now if she had continued smoking.”


I hope the many examples help you with “would,” “would have,” and “would have had.” In conclusion, the third conditional is used to describe the past and to describe the results of situations that actually did not happen.

By the way, if you are eager to learn more about the other conditional tenses in English, here’s another post you will definitely enjoy! I’m sure you’ll pick up so many tips and lessons after checking it out! 

Until our next lesson! Happy learning!

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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