Does I’d mean “I had” or “I would”?

The contraction I’d can mean either ‘I would’ or ‘I had’.

If you’re unable to understand the meaning of I’d (or he’d, she’d, we’d, etc.) from the context of a sentence, try looking at the verb form that follows it:

  • would is followed by the bare infinitive (infinitive without to)
  • would can also be followed by the perfect infinitive (have + past participle)
  • had is followed by a past participle.

Watch out for sentences containing ‘d better!

Here’s the explanation in the form of an infographic:

Does I'd mean 'I had' or 'I would'?

For more examples sentences and a full explanation of the rule see:  grammar explanation of ‘d = ‘had’ or ‘would’.

If you want to test yourself, try this exercise: practice exercise ‘d = ‘had’ or ‘would’.

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.

10 Comments

  1. sam - April 9, 2013, 4:00 pm Reply

    I,ve done the test (100%) as I expect

  2. sam - April 9, 2013, 4:01 pm Reply

    U have used many conditional sentence (3rd form) am I right?

    • Stuart Cook - April 10, 2013, 7:06 am Reply

      Hi, Sam

      When would is followed by the infinitve form of the verb, it’s a second conditional sentence: I would go if
      When would is followed by have + past participle, it’s a third conditional sentence: I would have gone if

      • sam - April 10, 2013, 1:25 pm Reply

        I see and I meant that , most of ur sentences were third conditional

  3. Subekti Wiyana - May 5, 2013, 5:48 am Reply

    What are characteristics of conditional sentences?

    • Stuart Cook - May 6, 2013, 7:18 am Reply

      Subekti,

      Conditional sentences are made up of two parts, called clauses. One clause depends on the other – hence the name ‘conditional’. Here’s an example:

      I’ll go on holiday if I save enough money. (I’ll = I will)

      In the example, the speaker would like to go on holiday (I’ll go on holiday). However, there is a condition (if I save enough money); he can only go on holiday if he saves enough money. If he doesn’t save the money, he won’t be able to go.

      In another type of conditional sentence, we can indicate a more theoretical situation:

      I’d go on holiday if I had enough money.

      In this example, the speaker is indicating that he doesn’t think it is probable that he will have enough money. (I’d = I would)

  4. Debo Chowdhury - November 16, 2013, 7:03 am Reply

    What s the difference of Gerund and Participle?

    • Stuart Cook - November 17, 2013, 7:46 am Reply

      Debo,

      We have two types of participle: present participle and past participle.

      As examples, take the verbs speak, drink and be:
      The present participles are speaking, drinking and being. We see these in the present continuous (he’s speaking) and past continuous (he was drinking).
      The past participles are spoken, drunk and been. We see these in the present perfect (he has been, she has spoken). You will also see them after modal verb + have (I should have gone, they would have done).

      A gerund is when a verb is used as noun. Gerunds end in -ing: swimming is healthy, smoking is dangerous.

  5. Aby Joseph - November 8, 2014, 7:37 am Reply

    Good xpntn….I got 91%….that z 10 ticks out of 11

  6. Lex - November 26, 2015, 6:54 pm Reply

    That’s so informative. Feed me more about Basic Grammar in English. Keep it up and more power Sir.

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