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"Who would've thought that working with you would have been a silver lining?" Actually, I don't quite understand the usage of "would have been"? What's the difference if I replace "would have been" with "was"?

  • Could you give us the source of the quote? I personally would prefer either "Who would've thought that working with you would have a silver lining?" – aparente001 Aug 29 '15 at 22:36
  • Over 5000 questions tagged "would have been". – rogermue Aug 31 '15 at 7:40
  • @aparente001 I think your suggestion changes the intended meaning. The wording in the question means (to me) that some situation was generally bad but working with you was a good aspect of it. Your wording means (to me) that working with you was generally bad but some aspect of it was good. – Andreas Blass Aug 31 '15 at 8:59
  • @AndreasBlass - I see what you mean. In that case, I guess I would propose "Who would've thought that working here would have a silver lining -- getting to work with you!" – aparente001 Aug 31 '15 at 14:14
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Using "Would have been": Here, the implication is such that before you had worked with him, you never felt that working with him would be a silver lining. Maybe you had some qualms. But, after working with him, you are actually registering your surprise by saying this line.

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The implication that user3847720’s answer mentions is already made with the beginning of the sentence, "Who would've thought." The second instance of "would have" does nothing to emphasize this.

Using was instead of would have been feels awkward here because you're moving into past tense. But the original version feels awkward because they've used a contraction of would and have at the start of the sentence, and then used those same two words later on in the same sentence, so neither is a good option.

"Who would've thought there would be a silver lining to working with you."

This seems the best choice to me. Essentially the use of would have been here is redundant, and replacing it with was doesn't work.

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