by the time it is completed this could have risen to $75 billion or more

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
1. ...the original cost of the dam was estimated at $25 billion, but by the time it is completed this could have risen to $75 billion or more.
Source: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiE5YzL8NXWAhUF7iYKHZp1CswQFggmMAA&url=https://www.englishforums.com/English/CouldHave/bbqzkn/post.htm&usg=AOvVaw01in9UW8Jez2SntGXKjGKw

(I think this is the supposition use-- the author is saying he supposes the cost will rise to $75 billion or more when the dam is completed)

Is my thinking right?
Thank you.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I understand your thinking. You want to combine 'could' (a modal verb in its own right) with the future perfect (will have risen).

    I understand all that.

    However, I still find the combination rather dubious from a grammar perspective, and very unlikely.

    'Could have risen' strongly implies that the cost did not actually rise, past tense. This clashes with the rest of the sentence which talks about the future.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    However, I still find the combination rather dubious from a grammar perspective, and very unlikely.

    'Could have risen' strongly implies that the cost did not actually rise, past tense. This clashes with the rest of the sentence which talks about the future.
    This is incorrect I’m afraid - the sentence is perfectly grammatical and there is no problem with tense.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Well, Glasguensis, I followed the link provided by the OP hoping to find context, but it turns out it links to another language forum where the same question is asked. :) So I read some of the answers there and there is at least one more person who finds such combinations 'anomalous'. As it happens, I agree with that. I believe this is stretching the English grammar to, possibly beyond, its limits. I would expect the present tense here (future reference) and I would use it myself:
    ...the original cost of the dam was estimated at $25 billion, but by the time it is completed this could rise to $75 billion or more...
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The present tense is also perfectly acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that the future perfect is anomalous. The future perfect is justified by « by the time it is completed ». If there were no time-phrase, the future perfect would indeed be anomalous.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    but by the time it is completed this could have risen to $75 billion or more
    but by the time it is completed this could rise to $75 billion or more


    Both verb forms are valid, with a slightly different perspective.

    The problem here is thinking in terms of tenses, that "could have risen" is past tense, and "could rise" present tense. They are not "tenses;" they are constructions using a modal verb + an infinitive (simple or perfect), which serve a communicative purpose.

    The difference between the infinitive "rise" and the perfect infinitive "have risen" is one of aspect, and aspect is independent of time/tense. Aspect looks at the internal constituency of verbs. Simply put, "rise" looks at the verb action as a "whole" while "have risen" focuses on the "completed" sense of the verb action (that's why it's called "perfect infinitive"). The modal verb adds a sense of "possibility." Since neither "could" nor the infinitive are about "time/tense," the construction could have risen adopts the time reference of the overall sentence. Given that our sentence is talking about the future, then could have risen refers to the future as well.

    Whether you show the verb as a whole ("rise") or completed ("have risen") is not a question of grammar. It's a question of style, rhetoric; use whichever you prefer. But, in terms of grammar, there's no reason to change the original wording.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I agree with Seven Days' analysis, which is quite correct in terms of theoretical grammar. Indeed, it was not quite accurate to talk in terms of tenses. What we have is a simple combination between a modal verb (could) and the perfect infinitive (have risen).

    My view is based on language convention. In the overwhelming majority of cases a combination between a modal verb (especially one that inconveniently happens to be the past tense of another - can->could) and the perfect infinitive refers to the past and describes past hypotheses, possibilities, etc. This is how in the original example 'could have risen' goes against usage and language convention, inviting, albeit for a split second, the wrong kind of interpretation.

    I still believe it to be anomalous, even if it is only me here. :)
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    By the way, here is the example and quote from the link provided by the OP.
    2.'By the time he arrives at the station, the train could have left.'

    The second one seems anomalous to me.

    The train could have left ~ It's possible that the train (has) left.

    The possibility that the train has already left (in the past) doesn't seem related at all to the time of his arrival.

    For this idea, I'd say, The train might leave before he arrives at the station.
    ________

    The other two (1 and 3) seem fine to me.

    CJ

    21st August 2012

     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you all. It seems my question has provoked a heated debate. I don't know for sure what you are debating on. I just want to categorize this use of "could have".
    Accoording to my grammar book, "could have" has three usages
    1) used in a 3rd condition, expressing unrealized past possibility/ability (counterfactual use)
    2) non-counterfactual use -- expressing uncertainty
    3) refer to present situations which were possible but have not been realized
    I don't know which category a "could have pp" may fall into when it refers to future?
    Maybe there is a fourth category?:confused:
    Please shed light on it.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Category 2, perhaps
    In grammar, present and future are sometimes analysed together as non-past.

    PS. By the way, you've not seen a heated debate here. This one is quite sedate in comparison. :D And it is not going to get any more heated as far as I am concerned... :)
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    You are looking at the usage of « could have » when the example you provided used « could have + PP (past participle) », which is a different situation entirely.
    Could have + PP can be used 1. to convey uncertainty about a future outcome (the usage in your example), 2. to indicate uncertainty about whether something has occurred or 3. to describe a hypothetical outcome which in fact did not occur.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    You are looking at the usage of « could have » when the example you provided used « could have + PP (past participle) », which is a different situation entirely.
    Could have + PP can be used 1. to convey uncertainty about a future outcome (the usage in your example), 2. to indicate uncertainty about whether something has occurred or 3. to describe a hypothetical outcome which in fact did not occur.
    Thank you. By "could have" I mean "could have pp". I won't explore the usage of "could have" as in "could have to" and the likes. It seems my category 1) and 3) can be merged into one usages to fit into your category 3, right?

    And when referring to present, can "could have pp" express uncertainty about whether something is going on now?
    And when referring to future, can "could have pp" express a hypothetical outcome of what will happen in the future?
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Thank you. By "could have" I mean "could have pp". I won't explore the usage of "could have" as in "could have to" and the likes. It seems my category 1) and 3) can be merged into one usages to fit into your category 3, right?
    Yes
    And when referring to present, can "could have pp" express uncertainty about whether something is going on now?
    No
    And when referring to future, can "could have pp" express a hypothetical outcome of what will happen in the future?
    Yes

    By the way, does "might/may have risen" work in the original sentence in the op?
    Yes
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    And when referring to future, can "could have pp" express a hypothetical outcome of what will happen in the future?
    Yes
    Thank you! Could you give me an example of this usage? I have never encountered someone using "could have pp" to express future counterfactual situations.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Hypothetical is not the same as counterfactual. Your example is in fact an example of this usage.
    Thank you. But I remember you said my example in the op falls into category 1)?
    Now do you suggest my example can fit into either 1) or 3)? If it can be categorized as 3), then I think it must imply a condition (if-clause)?
    You are looking at the usage of « could have » when the example you provided used « could have + PP (past participle) », which is a different situation entirely.
    Could have + PP can be used 1. to convey uncertainty about a future outcome (the usage in your example), 2. to indicate uncertainty about whether something has occurred or 3. to describe a hypothetical outcome which in fact did not occur.
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    I said that your example is in he category which I defined as 1, that is, a hypothetical future outcome. It is not a conditional.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    I said that your example is in he category which I defined as 1, that is, a hypothetical future outcome. It is not a conditional.
    Thank you. I misunderstood you. So what you define as category 3 (a hypothetical outcome which in fact did not occur) talks only about past, right? Namely, counterfactual past situations with implied or explicit condition, right?
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you. I see. I have last two questions to ask. Sorry for too many questions.:oops:
    1. If I change “could have” into “may/might have” in the sentence in the op, will the meaning change? Or both “could have risen” and “might/may have risen” in that sentence express uncertainty about a future outcome?
    2. I am wondering if “could have pp” and “may/might have pp” can refer to future situations which are possible but won’t be realized/won’t happen? For example,
    “You could/may/might have given/been giving/ a recital at the Moscow Conservatory next week if you'd practised your violin properly twenty years ago."
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    2. I am wondering if “could have pp” and “may/might have pp” can refer to future situations which are possible but won’t be realized/won’t happen? For example,
    “You could/may/might have given/been giving/ a recital at the Moscow Conservatory next week if you'd practised your violin properly twenty years ago."
    "possible but won’t be realized/won’t happen" -- how could that be?:confused:

    And you cannot use "may" here.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I meant it's incorrect to say that a sitiation is "possible" and at the same time "won't happen". It's either this or that.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    I meant it's incorrect to say that a sitiation is "possible" and at the same time "won't happen". It's either this or that.
    OK. I see you point, which makes me confused again. This unreal conditional use with a reference to future exists but I don't know how to describe it. Maybe my understanding of this usage is wrong. Perhaps Glasguensis has a better way to interpret this usage. So Mr. Glasguensis, how do you understand this "future unreal conditional" use of "could have pp"?
     
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    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    OK. I am confused again now. This unreal conditional use with a reference to future exists but I don't know how to describe it. Maybe my understanding of this usage is wrong. Perhaps Glasguensis has a better way to interpret this usage.
    You yourself just called it "unreal conditional". It can't be "possible". You didn't practise your violin properly twenty years ago, so it is impossible for you to perform at the Moscow Conservatory next week.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    You yourself just called it "unreal conditional". It can't be "possible". You didn't practise your violin properly twenty years ago, so it is impossible for you to perform at the Moscow Conservatory next week.
    Thank you. I see. I think I should say it's otherwise possible.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    A future unreal conditional is something which would have been possible were it not for some condition which is known to preclude it.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    A future unreal conditional is something which would have been possible were it not for some condition which is known to preclude it.
    Thank you. But I think you want to say "A future unreal conditional is something which would be possible were it not for ...", since "would have been" refers to something in the past? Or "would have pp" can also refer to future?
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Would have + PP can apply to the future in a similar way to could have + PP
    Thank you. I see. I have just found an explanation in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

    We sometimes use structures with "would have ..." to talk about present and future situations which are no longer possible because of the way things have turned out.

    If my thinking is right, this explanation is about how to understand present/future unreal conditional. And this explanation can apply to both "would have pp" and "could have pp", right?
    For example, I can say in following sentences we can use "would have pp" and "could have pp" interchangeably without changing the meaning, right?
    It would/could have been nice to go to Australia this winter, but there's no way we can do it. (or It would/could be nice ...)
    You would/could have given/been giving a recital at the Moscow Conservatory next week if you'd practised your violin properly twenty years ago." (or You would/could given/be giving ...)


     
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