My wife would murder me if I said "No"

I’ve been watching something on TV. A guy got a job offer, higher salary etc. Employer asked him if he accepts the offer. The guy said YES and then added: Well, my wife would murder me if I said “no”.

It’s an American TV show so probably it’s the correct way of saying this but if I were him I’d say:

Well, my wife would murder me if I would have said “No”.

Because I said Yes and didn’t say “No” so if I would have said “No” my wife would murder me.

I usually don’t question these kind of things, if native speakers think that that’s the correct way of saying it, I try to imitate them but this time I wanted to ask.

Sorry for another wall of text, thanks for answers.

I would like to take a try at this.

Technically, I believe it could be said either way. The TV version is in the present moment. You’re version is ahead time wise, reflecting on the past.

Stories and dramas are usually more exciting if they stay in the present moment.

Your version offers reflection and a depth of husband, wife relationship probably lacking in the TV version.

I like the brevity of the TV version. I like the musing of the husband in your version.

^^ Correct. I agree.

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I keep watching and people say “if you knew”. I guess this is the correct way. Listening is really powerful. I am learning a lot.

Thanks for quick answers, guys. Both of you. Glad to be a part of this community.


The proposed replacement seems a little strange to me. I initially thought it was totally wrong. But if I change it slightly to “my wife would murder me if I had said no” (which means the same thing) I could see saying this after saying “yes” but before my wife could have any opportunity to kill me.

This is perfectly fine as it is.

This is a case of the second conditional.

The second conditional uses the past simple after if together with ‘would’ and the infinitive

The rule is very simple: would + infinitive and if + past simple

Well, my wife would murder me if I said “No”

Perfectly natural and exactly what I would say!

It is common for English learners to think this is wrong, but it is in fact perfectly correct :slight_smile:

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Well, my wife would murder me if I said ‘no’. This is the most natural, native English.

It’s fine both ways but the way you heard on TV sounds better.

Actually, I’m not sure if it is gramatically correct both ways, even if the meaning is still clear - 'my wife would murder me if I would have said “No” ’ sounds wrong to my ear. Maybe it’s a British vs American English difference.

Sounds wrong to my ear too, but this thread is over with. :slight_smile:

Thanks for answers, everyone. After I started this thread I paid attention to how native speakers speak and noticed that “if I said no” is the most common way.