I heard this 'You ever wonder what would have happened if we hadn't have gotten pregnant?'

Is this right?

Why not just '...if we hadn't gotten pregnant?'

  • For what it's worth, over on ELL I conjecture that this is a "formalized" orthographic representation of a set of subjunctive forms emerging in speech. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 27 '17 at 22:39
  • "We have gotten pregnant . . . if we hadn't done that . . . if we hadn't have gotten pregnant . . ." – Xanne Oct 28 '17 at 1:19
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because music lyrics are off-topic. – Hot Licks Oct 28 '17 at 1:43
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    @HotL I'm confused, since there's a lyrics tag. I thought what was off-topic are interpretations of lyrics, not constructions found in them. Perhaps a meta-question could clear this up? – green_ideas Oct 28 '17 at 1:55
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    This site is not about the Queens English is it? But I agree song requirements may influence lyrics. But not necessarily so. And as both a Google search and observation show, it's a construction that's gaining traction. Also see StoneyB's answer. @HotLicks – green_ideas Oct 28 '17 at 2:05

It's a common incorrect usage; people sometimes throw in a "have" after the "had/hadn't", as is correct after the "would/wouldn't" in the other half of the sentence. Watch UK soap Eastenders for this kind of thing.

It's a mutation that has developed a sense of correctness because enough people mirror one other making it. I think it may be the rhythm of it - the extra syllable - that people find appealing, because adding the "have" there makes it equal on each half: "would have done (3 syllables), had have done (3 syllables)".

For those who think this is a one-off irrelevant thing, just try googling: a) "If you hadn't have done" and b) "If you'd have done" to see how embedded and accepted such mutations become.

  • It's not standard English, in other words. But saying it's incorrect when it has robust usage is prescriptionist. – green_ideas Oct 28 '17 at 1:50
  • 'Correct vs non-standard' is not an area I tend to debate regularly Clare, but please can you clarify your point here for.my benefit. I mean, is there no such thing as 'incorrect usage' in your understanding? Or does 'incorrect' become 'non-standard' when it becomes commonplace? Thanks – Mark E K Oct 28 '17 at 1:57
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    As I said, it's incorrect in standard English. I'm not going to call a growing permutation (not your 'mutation') incorrect in an unqualified way. So, yeah it becomes nonstandard when it's used by a great many speakers, and it becomes standard when an even greater number of speakers find it acceptable enough to use in "standard" daily English. Usage determines grammaticality, not vice versa. – green_ideas Oct 28 '17 at 2:02
  • And please also clarify Clare, if I'd have said (joke!) "non-standard" instead of "incorrect", would you have agreed with the rest? – Mark E K Oct 28 '17 at 2:03
  • Let's put it this way, such a change would remove my downvote, probably. It's late and my brain hurts right now... – green_ideas Oct 28 '17 at 2:09

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