Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In the movie "A Walk to remember" Jimmie's father says the following to his son-in-law who got into medical school. Actually Jimmie is dead when he says,

We are proud of you, son. Jimmie would have been proud of you, too.

I wonder if the use of "would have been" is correct in this case. Shouldn't it simply be "would be"? I mean why past of would instead of present?

share|improve this question
1  
From the edit history it appears that Shyam changed the crude but accurate "BTW, Jimmie is dead by the time they speak" to the wrong-referencing "Actually Jimmie is dead when he says" phrase. Given the context one can understand that he refers to Jimmie's father rather than to Jimmie; but taken literally, it says that Jimmie was dead when Jimmie said something. –  jwpat7 May 18 '12 at 17:00
add comment

2 Answers

To some extent they're interchangeable, but I think there's a slight difference in implication. If I say:

Jimme would be proud of you (if he knew/could see this).

it can imply that Jimmy potentially had the opportunity to see the event but didn't due to some 'temporary' event (not finding out yet, not being there at that particular moment). Whereas:

Jimmie would have been proud of you (had he still been alive/living here).

has slightly more of an implication that it was not possible for Jimmie to witness the event due to some fairly 'definiitive' previous event, e.g. dying, moving away etc.

However, these are implications rather than hard-and-fast differences in meaning. To some extent, they are interchangeable with either meaning.

share|improve this answer
add comment

In this case either "would have been proud" or "would be proud" are acceptable. The meaning would be the same. The very slight difference between the two is a matter of the speaker's attitude or viewpoint toward the time frame of Jimmie's existence.

We are proud of you, son. Jimmie would have been proud of you, too.

The attitude of the speaker focuses on Jimmie's existence in the past with no extension into the present.

We are proud of you, son. Jimmie would be proud of you, too.

The attitude of the speaker allows for Jimmie's existence without reference to the past time frame.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.