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1 What is the difference between these:

  1. I am surprised that he did it yesterday.
  2. I am surprised that he should do it yesterday.
  3. I am surprised that he should have done it yesterday.
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The first implies that I am sure that he actually did it yesterday.

The third implies that I have reason to think he did it, but I am not certain: perhaps I have heard that he did it.

The second does not seem natural to me, but I would take it to mean the same as the third.

This is a (comparatively rare) instance of English encoding evidentiality

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  • To my ears, Colin, 'I am surprised that he should have done it yesterday' is a literary Edwardian variant on 'I am surprised that he did it yesterday' (but I've not read much Edwardian literature for quite a while). Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 15:08

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