What is the difference between the two sentences in each of the three cases?

1A. I should like to have sat down.

1B. I should have liked to sit down.

2A. He acts as if he knows the subject.

2B. He acts as if he knew the subject.

3A. He felt better when she gave him medicine.

3B. He was feeling better when she gave him medicine.

The first pair confounds me the most.

  • 2
    What do you think or doubt is the difference? Why does the first one confounds you?
    – Mohit
    Jan 21, 2013 at 14:44
  • 1
    This is really three unrelated questions in one. Stack Exchange works best when you limit your question to one question.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 21, 2013 at 14:56
  • @Mohit: Only helpful answers please. Jan 21, 2013 at 14:57
  • @RegDwighт, this is the first time that I am using this site so thank you for advice. Nonetheless, could someone answer these? Jan 21, 2013 at 14:59
  • To ping people, prefix their names with an at. Otherwise they won't get your message. I have fixed your comments accordingly.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jan 21, 2013 at 15:23

1 Answer 1


For the first pair, you might like to take a look at this question and the answers. Based on the methodology I used in my own answer there, in A I should like refers to the time of speaking and to have sat down refers to some previous time. In B, on the other hand, I should have liked refers to the same time as the sitting down.

In the second pair, A suggests that the speaker does know the subject, while B suggests that the speaker might not.

In the third pair, A suggests that the medicine made him feel better, while B suggests that he was feeling better before she gave him the medicine.

All of these explanations should be read with a certain amount of caution. Much will depend on the circumstances in which they are being said or written.

  • Oh, come on, down-voter, whoever you are, let's hear what you have to say. We might all benefit. Jan 21, 2013 at 15:32

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