Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Loretta Gray

Second Committee Member

Charles X. Li

Third Committee Member

Natalie Lefkowitz


The two past counterfactual constructions under investigation in this study are the past counterfactual conditional (Type 3) and the past counterfactual wish complement clause (PCWCC). Each of these has both a standard and variant form. The verb in the standard forms is had + past participle; the verb in the variant forms is would have + past participle. Although reference books and textbooks acknowledge variant forms, generally describing them as informal or conversational, they have not received serious scrutiny. It was the goal of this study to see whether variant forms are currently common in usage and to understand more fully the contexts in which they appear. The study included a survey administered to college students between the ages of 18 and 25 and a search of data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Findings will be of use to researchers, teachers, and students interested in current usage patterns of English.