I instinctively said

I would have had to have been over 180 lbs for that to have happened.

I thought that seemed overly wordy. Too many "have"s and "had"s. So I tried:

I would have had to be over 180 lbs for that to happen.

That didn't feel right, though.

My brother and I were talking of a past event. He suggested something that could have happened. (Something like, You could have hung from the chandelier to get it out). I tried the first of the above statements. I want to speak about something that would need to occur for something else to occur in that past situation.

What would be the proper way of saying what I was trying to say up there‽


I would have had to have been and I would have had to be are alternatives, but have had already sets up the time reference, so the infinitive to be, rather than the perfect infinitive to have been is enough. Usage seems to confirm this. The British National Corpus has 15 records of would have had to have been and 45 of would have had to be. The figures for the Corpus of Contemporary American English are 38 and 67.

  • I woulda hadda be ten feet tall! I woulda hadda be really fast! :) My instinct is would have had to be as well. I doubt if I ever use had to have been in normal speech. – aedia λ Dec 1 '11 at 20:17
  • So, in a technical sense, both are considered proper English? Good to know! :) Much thanks, Barrie! I appreciate the reference, too. – MicronXD Dec 1 '11 at 23:48
  • 1
    @MicronXD: Yes, we have a tremendous advantage now in being able to consult corpora. We can see how people actually use language, rather than having some vague idea of how they ought to use it. I prefer not to think in terms of 'proper English' or 'correct English'. It seems to me to make more sense to think in terms of effective English. – Barrie England Dec 2 '11 at 7:22

Speaking casually:

"I'd have to have been over 180lbs . . ."

  • Thanks Mr. Wiz! I wanted to upvote your answer, but I haven't enough reputation. – MicronXD Dec 1 '11 at 23:50
  • @MicronXD thank you. The points will come soon I'm sure. – Mr.Wizard Dec 1 '11 at 23:55

I would say "I would have to have been. . .". "I would have had to be..." would be grammatical, but as you say sounds odd here, possibly because it's not the tense your brother used.


I say "I would have to have been" but I hear it said differently usually. This is the only site I have found just now, so I don't know how to verify this. I wonder if my form is British?


this is actually right because it framing a double conditional in which the meta conditional is something that has already concluded and is in the past and is a hypothetical condtion which was not achieved, thereby making the first conditional a statement of another conditional statement under what circumstances would have allow the post conditional to be achieved. it is sandwiching part conditional perfect progressive "i would have_ been" tense-- which needs an if and then portion--with a filling of conditional past imperfect (an incompleted action): "had to have (been) [180 lbs]" which was not completed/achieved.... setting up for the 'then' statement "for so and so to happen" thusly it completes the thought on continuity and conditional statements.

  • Extremely confusing answer. Extensive editing and rewording needed. – VTH Aug 19 '18 at 10:39

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