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September 20, 2010 5:16 PM   Subscribe

"If [blank] were [blank(s)] then [blank] would be [blank]." Have you heard this before? Like, is this a particular saying with specific words in the [blank]'s? Or are there different permuations? I've had this general pattern in my head all day and I can't for the life of me remember how I've heard it go. Please fill in the [blank] and help me get it out of my head.
posted by hegemone to Grab Bag (53 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride"?
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:17 PM on September 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Wikipedia has information on different permutations, also. (And then there's that line from "Stand" by R.E.M. about "If wishes were trees, the trees would be falling." Whatever that means.)
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:19 PM on September 20, 2010


If wishes were horses, then dreamers would ride?
posted by NoraCharles at 5:19 PM on September 20, 2010


If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there'd be no work for tinkers.
If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas
If wishes were fishes we'd all cast nets.

Similar format, but with a slight variation: If your aunt had balls she'd be your uncle.

I'm sure there are others, but that's all I got.
posted by lovermont at 5:26 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've heard it as, "If wishes were ponies, then beggars would ride."
posted by coppermoss at 5:26 PM on September 20, 2010


"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, then every day would be Christmas." Or it sometimes ends "we'd all have a Merry Christmas" or something similar.

Here are some funny variations on it from an old McSweeney's piece.
posted by Askr at 5:27 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


My middle school history teacher used to say "if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas."
posted by phunniemee at 5:27 PM on September 20, 2010


to the "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride" my grandfather always added "and if I were a beggar, I'd ride by your side."

of course, the first thing that came to my mind when I saw your pattern was "If your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle" which, while true, probably wasn't the particular folk expression you had in mind.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride"

and

If wishes were fishes we'd all cast nets

are the two that I've heard and seamlessly combine to attain

If wishes were fishes then horses would ride,

which seems about as profound as the two it spawns from, but on a deeper level.
posted by carsonb at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


If a frog didn't have legs, he would bump his ass when he hops
posted by JujuB at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2010


The Cohen Brothers use the frog one in "Raising Arizona", but slightly different - If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'.
posted by MShades at 5:32 PM on September 20, 2010


No, no. If a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his ass when he hops. Wayne's World FTW.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:33 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


My grandmother used to say, "if 'if' was a skiff we would all take a boat ride." Same meaning as the other versions above... but weirder.
posted by dayintoday at 5:35 PM on September 20, 2010


It's a slight variation, but I rather like "If we had some ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had any eggs".
posted by hot soup girl at 5:37 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If assholes had wings, this place would be an airport."
posted by djb at 5:48 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've read but not heard "if wishes were horses then beggars would ride"

And I must have heard "if wishes were fishes..." because when I try to use this saying with my daughter, what invariably comes out is

" if wishes were fishes, then ...(pause) ... beggars would eat a lot of fish"

Which I'm pretty sure isn't one of the standard fill-in-the-blanks.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2010


I grew up with the classic - "if wishes were horses, beggars would ride" and a slight variation on lovermont's "If if and ands were pots and pans, beggars would be rich"

My husband grew up with hot soup girl's variation about ham and eggs and I now find myself using that one more often. (I suppose we have an empty larder more often than needing horses or pots)

I suspect some of this is regional. I grew up in southern Ohio as did my mother. My husband and his family are from the East Coast (Philadelphia and Conneticut)
posted by metahawk at 5:56 PM on September 20, 2010


As far as the fishes versions, I've heard it as "If wishes were fishes, we'd all have a feast."
posted by amyms at 5:56 PM on September 20, 2010


One of my teachers was fond of "If wishes were fishes, we'd all be casting nets."
posted by WowLookStars at 6:02 PM on September 20, 2010


I've always heard the slightly more gruesome permutation, "If wishes were horses, beggars would eat."
posted by FakePalindrome at 6:04 PM on September 20, 2010


If wishes were horses, I'd be eating wish meat every night. -Simpsons
posted by mmmbacon at 6:08 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know of this two line phrase:

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,
If turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side."
posted by illenion at 6:11 PM on September 20, 2010


If I had a boat
I'd go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I'd ride him on my boat
And we could all together
Go out on the ocean
Me upon my pony on my boat

posted by drjimmy11 at 6:15 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If your aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle" which, while true, probably wasn't the particular folk expression you had in mind.

Why not? With "grandmother" and "grandfather" in place of "aunt" and "uncle," this is an old Yiddish saying (""Az der bubbe vot gehat baytzim vot zie geven mein zayde") much predating Wayne's World, the Simpsons, etc.
posted by escabeche at 6:16 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


"If wishes were horses, we'd all be eating steak." - Jayne, Firefly
posted by wiskunde at 6:17 PM on September 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


"If, if, if!" my husband's father used to say. "If your granny had wheels, she'd be a wagon!"
posted by ROTFL at 6:27 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you like the show "Strangers with Candy"? There's a great episode where Jellineck says, in a very earwormy way,

"If wishes and BUTS were clusters of NUTS then we'd all have a bowl of graNOla!"
posted by harperpitt at 6:36 PM on September 20, 2010


If hate were people, I'd be China. -City Slickers
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:37 PM on September 20, 2010


Aren't these the word problem version of SAT-style analogies?
posted by Robson at 6:50 PM on September 20, 2010


If shoes were clues, you'd be barefoot?
posted by doublehappy at 7:05 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


(+1 for this thread, and this related thread. I needed a laugh today.)
posted by shinyshiny at 7:05 PM on September 20, 2010


"If your Aunt Bob had balls, then Bob would be your uncle."

(This one is somewhat... nonstandard? But I've been trying to get it into popular circulation for a while now.)
posted by mhoye at 7:06 PM on September 20, 2010


Always liked this one:
If the king had tits, he'd be the queen
or
If the queen had balls, she'd be the king
posted by lois1950 at 7:30 PM on September 20, 2010


Here, I've always heard "If bullshit was music, you'd be a brass band".
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:40 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"If Smurfs were smurf-smurf then Smurfette would be smurfalicious."
posted by mrbarrett.com at 7:45 PM on September 20, 2010


I can only think of feminist versions.

"If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament."

"If men had periods, tampons would be federally funded and free."

"If men had boobs, bras would be available in every size on every corner store."

And so on. They only get more obnoxious from there.
posted by Leta at 7:47 PM on September 20, 2010


This really doesn't count, but it immediately came tough. Another Waynes World quote:

"If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he'd be pralines and dick."

Makes me laugh everytime.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:49 PM on September 20, 2010


Dwight Schrute's version: "If onlys and justs were candies and nuts, then every day would be Erntedankfest."
posted by supercres at 7:52 PM on September 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Holy crap, so many good ones here! I think punchdrunkhistory had what I was looking for right off the bat but I totally plan on using several more of the following ones in conversation as well.
posted by hegemone at 8:28 PM on September 20, 2010


"If wishes were fishes we'd walk on the sea."
posted by Vibrissa at 8:29 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't know the "If assholes could fly" one came from this snowclone! I'd only heard the variation "if assholes could fly this place would be busier than O'Hare", which is from an Alkaline Trio song.

don't judge me
posted by NoraReed at 8:38 PM on September 20, 2010


My dad likes to say "If wishes were fishes we'd be up to our snouts in trouts."

Or alternately, "If wishes were fishes we'd be up to our asses in basses."
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:04 PM on September 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


If my aunt had wheels she'd be a trolly.
posted by furtive at 9:26 PM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Claire Lynch's song "If Wishes Were Horses" contains the repeated line "If wishes were horses, I would ride, ride, ride," a reference to the first permutation cited here.
posted by JiBB at 10:52 PM on September 20, 2010


If a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'

From Wayne's World and The 70s Show and my Dad about a thousand times. When I saw it on Wayne's World I was astounded since up to that point I had somehow thought it was some dumb thing that only my father said.
posted by Lame_username at 11:30 PM on September 20, 2010


Then there's "If your grandmother had wheels, she'd be a streetcar."

A turn-of-phrase that I love desperately, though I'm not really sure why.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:34 AM on September 21, 2010


It's not just English that has this. There's a Dutch variant "Als mijn tante wieltjes had, was het een autobus" which roughly translates "If my aunt had wheels, she'd be a bus" - and it's used in the "if wishes were horses" sense.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:49 AM on September 21, 2010


If wishes were wings, then pigs would fly.

Thanks grandpa from Iowa.
posted by BigVACub at 3:30 AM on September 21, 2010


It's weird how many things I regularly say turn out to be Yiddish. (See also.)
posted by JoanArkham at 6:26 AM on September 21, 2010


My father's variation: "If ifs and buts were fruits and nuts, oh what a party we would have!"
posted by cirripede at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2010


An Irish song full of filled-in blanks for you.
posted by aimedwander at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2010


If your Aunt had balls, she'd be your uncle.

Classic!
posted by ladybug_422 at 4:31 PM on September 21, 2010


If my aunt had wheels, she'd be a tea cart.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 7:33 PM on September 22, 2010


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