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"I would have expected that you notified me" Is this sentence correct?

I expected that the person notified me in a opportunity that already passed. This is why I would use "notified" in subjunctive form.

I have the doubt if the correct way would be to say: "I would have expected you to notify me" because this doesn't convey the sense of an opportunity that already happened. This last sentence would mean that I expected that the person notifies me in future opportunities.

I have just read that "expect" always takes an infinitive complement. If this is so then how can one indicate that one would have expected the person to do something in the past?

2 Answers 2

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There is no problem with “expected” nor with “… would have expected… ” The problem is in combining “notified” with "expected".

I think what you want to express is that something happened; you thought someone should have told you about it; that person did not tell you about it. Is that right, please?

The simplest way to say that would be: “I expected you to notify me” and there are others… “I expected to be notified" or “I expected notification” for instance, among many including fralau’s “I had expected that you would notify me.”

Certainly “I would have expected you to notify me" does convey the sense of an opportunity that has already happened, because you used “had expected…” and yes, that sentence is designed to be used to express both the expectation and the notification, as well as the problem, being in the past.

“… in the past” here means a continuous past, from the time of the event until now. “I would have expected you to notify me" could only include the future in a vague conditional speculation.

“… just when the problem was happening” can only be expressed by an extra clause, as "I expected you to notify me at the time/when it happened…”

If you expected the person to notify you in the future, whatever happened, you would need "I expect you to notify me”.

If you expected the person to notify you in the future, on condition, you would need at least “I expect you to notify me if…” and perhaps, yes, “I would expect you to notify me if…”

One could indicate that one would have expected a person to do something in the past with, for instance: “I would have expected you to do something…” in which case adding “… in the past” would do no damage but neither would it be in any way necessary or helpful.

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  • Ok, thanks. That's what I wanted to know, about "I would have expected you to do something…". Yes, that was the situation. All this happened in an email to a client. Indeed I wrote: "I would have expected you notify me before taking control of the machine". Later I started to doubt if the sentence was correct.
    – gyerena
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 0:25
  • Cool! "I would have expected you to think that." Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 0:27
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There a twist here: you had really expected, so the indicative might be appropriate with "expected".

I had expected that you would notify me.

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  • Thanks for your answer. But is the original sentence correct or not? I wanted to use "would expect" to be more polite or less direct, since the situation was delicate. "Had expected" may sound like I really expected that in that occassion (which is true but I did not want to be plainly direct).
    – gyerena
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 23:24
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    I was wondering about the fact that the underlying reason was that you used "would" to give it a more polite turn. On one hand, it made the construction of the sentence more challenging. You could have said "I would have expected that you would notify me", but even though I cannot fault it, it does not sound quite right (perhaps someone would have a rational argument). My rule of thumb is that when the language no longer lends itself easily to what we want it to say, it might have a more obvious solution in store for us.
    – fralau
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 7:48
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    Perhaps the phrase "I had expected" would be polite enough, since the "would" is already present in the second clause. Sometimes also, a little directness conveys more sincerity (and thus acceptability) than emphasis on social forms -- but that is an old debate between the Attic and Asian styles.
    – fralau
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 7:53
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    No, the sentence is not correct. If we have "I would have expected…" then we need at least "I would have expected that you notify me" Better would be "I would have expected that you would have notified me…" but that starts to sound pompous. A good compromise might be "I would have expected you to notify me…" Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 0:45
  • Thanks for your answers. I think what I wanted to say is expressed by the sentence suggested by fralau: "I had expected that you would notify me". I still have a doubt about the sentence suggested by @Robbie Goodwin: "I would have expected you to notify me." Can this sentence be used to express I expected the person to notify me just when the problem was happening (in the past)? I guess it depends on the context, as it could mean also that I expected the person to notify me after the problem (now or in the future). Please confirm.
    – gyerena
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 17:13

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