One would expect and one would have expected

Hello everyone,

I have two sentences and both seem to be grammaticallyt correct to me, only I would like to have your advice. Ofcourse, perhaps there may be a little difference in meaning. If this is not the case, please, tell me.

Here they are:

  • After spending so many years in hospital, one would expect the doctor to have retired.
  • After spending so many years in hospital one would have expected the doctor to have retired.

Is it also possible to replace ‘one would have exected / would expect’ by I should have expected…/I should expect…?

The doctor has reached the age of retirement, but it’s obvious from my sentences that he has not retired.


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I think this is a good question for @Alan, @Andrea or @tim_m

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Hi Marc @Masme

The beginning of the sentence implies that someone has spent many years in hospital - perhaps ill and hasn’t left the hospital. So we need to change it something else.

You could say:

“After spending so many years working in hospitals, one would expect the doctor to retire.”


“After spending so many years working in hospitals, one would have expected the doctor to retire.”

Hope these help. :wink:



Thank you very much Andrea and Torsten.

Yes you’re sentences help a lot. The only thing I wonder about right now is can you use a perfecr infintive in: ‘one would expected/ have expected the doctor to have retired’.? The doctor still works there, but you would assume he retired, having reached the age of 60 or 65.
Ofcourse ‘one would have expected’ is already a sort of (present) perfect construction.
Would you have a look at that too, please?

P.S.: Andrea, I sometimes get the impression I make things to complicated for myself. Do you agree?


Hi Masme,

In both cases the good doctor is still at work. ‘One would expect’ is an assumption that in a normal situation he has retired but clearly he hasn’t. ‘One would have expected’ is also an assumption but in this case you are showing great surprise that despite his long service he. hasn’t retired.
Another example - You give someone a present and they don’t thank you and you say to a friend - I would expect the child to have thanked me - after all that’s normal, isn’t it? Your friend agrees and expresses shock that the the child said nothing and so says - I agree. I think that’s terrible. After all I would certainly have expected the child to have thanked you…

Using ‘should’ instead of ‘would’ in both cases adds another dimension by suggesting almost a ‘moral’ tone indicating that this is the right thing to do.

PS I wouldn’t say you make things too complicated. You obviously enjoy understanding the finer points of language, which is good.


@Masme - Marc, I think you’re trying your best and looking at things in different ways. Sometimes, we need to think outside the box and it’s good! :wink:


Hello, Masme, I wonder who you are talking about in the first part of your sentence. The syntax shows that it is ‘one’ whom you assume to have spent many years in a hospital (hospitals). If that part relates to the doctor, the sentence, in my view, needs to be restructured.

I’d like comments by @Alan, @Torsten and @Andrea.


That’s nice to hear, Alan. Thank you.


Thanks all of you who anwsered my questions.



Anglophile, ‘one’ refers to ‘any person, but not a particular one’, so it could be anyone or I. That’s why the sentences don’t need restructuring at all.


Hello, @Masme. It’s been very long since we saw you last. Welcome back.

Well, “After spending so many years in hospital, one would expect the doctor to have retired.” suggests that “one”, the subject, has spent many years in hospitals.

Please compare: Having spent a lot of time on the playground, I am very tired. (Here, ‘spending time’ and ‘being tired’ relate to the same subject “I”.

Thank you for raising the question. I hope you will agree with me now.


Good to see you back!

Yes “I” works fine talking about the speaker specifically, and not some indefinite person.
In AmE, I would probably replace “one” with “you” in the original.

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That might and I do say ‘might’ be an explanation, yet I don’t have the same point of view. As see it, the doctor isn’t tired of doing his job, au contraire, he actually likes or loves doing his job even after reaching the age of full retirement. Of course, every indivdual on this earth is unique and some might be tired of doing their job and actually long to get retired - this is quite normal - , but I don’t think I would use that sentence, if the doctor wasn’t still at work. However, as Alan said, it is an assumption, so perhaps it might be interpreted in a lot of ways.

Thank you for welcoming me back. I needed a little time for myself. So far, I’ve had two operations and there’s one more to go in December. Both went well. Nothing serious, just an umbilical hernia and an epigastra. Pretty serious, you might think, but it’s quickly done - Just a one day hospitalisation. Nature and advances in medicine are great, don’t you think? :grinning:



Thanks for welcoming me back.


Wish you continued good health, Marc. Stay blessed!

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