Imperfect the future perfect tense

Magixo

Senior Member
Croatian
Hi everybody,

At the moment, it seems to me that the Future Perfect Tense is an entirely usless tense in English language. For example, what do you think of the two following sentences:

1) By the time he gets home, she is going to have cleaned the entire house.

2) Untils he gest home, she is going to clean the entire house.

To me, they have the same meaning and they are both grammatically correct! What is your opinion?
 
  • The Scrivener

    Banned
    England. English
    Hi everybody,

    At the moment, it seems to me that the Future Perfect Tense is an entirely usless tense in English language. For example, what do you think of the two following sentences:

    1) By the time he gets home, she is going to have cleaned the entire house.

    2) Untils he gest home, she is going to clean the entire house.

    To me, they have the same meaning and they are both grammatically correct! What is your opinion?
    Hi Maxigo,

    1) By the time he gets home, she will have cleaned the entire house.

    2) Until he gets home, she will spend her time cleaning the entire house.
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    Hi everybody,

    At the moment, it seems to me that the Future Perfect Tense is an entirely usless tense in English language. For example, what do you think of the two following sentences:

    1) By the time he gets home, she is going to have cleaned the entire house.

    2) Untils he gets home, she is going to clean the entire house.

    To me, they have the same meaning and they are both grammatically correct! What is your opinion?
    Hey, Magixo.

    They, in fact, are not the same thing...

    1) At the moment he arrives at the house, the house will have been cleaned by her. This means that at any point in the past she has cleaned the house, and when he arrives there, it is clean.

    2) When he gets home, she is going to stop cleaning the house. Look at the operative word "until" here. She will be doing it right up to the moment of his arrival.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    As noted above, the future perfect tense is "will have cleaned", not "going to have cleaned".

    The future perfect tense is not at all useless. It shows the completion of an action in the future before another action takes place. Here are some examples:

    By the time I complete the class, I shall have read all the novels of Jane Austen.
    We expect that the workers will have finished installing insulation throughout the whole house long before the weather turns cold.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    By the time I complete the class, I shall have read all the novels of Jane Austen.
    OK. But why can't I simply say:Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen.

    The same message and the meaning of the sentence, but the grammar is far less complicated.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    OK. But why can't I simply say:Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen.

    The same message and the meaning of the sentence, isn't it.
    You could say "When I complete the class, I will have read all the novels of Jane Austen."

    Your suggestion is not as idiomatic: it almost suggests that one interferes with the other or that they occur separately.
     

    The Scrivener

    Banned
    England. English
    OK. But why can't I simply say:Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen.

    The same message and the meaning of the sentence, but the grammar is far less complicated.
    This infers that you will have to have read all the novels of Jane Austen before you complete the class.

    Depending on your reading and comprehension speed, you could be in the class for years!

    Classes are normally set for a predetermined period and it is up to the student to cover the set work in that time.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    OK. But why can't I simply say:Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen.

    The same message and the meaning of the sentence, but the grammar is far less complicated.
    No, it isn't the same message or meaning.

    What the example says is that right now I have not read Austen's novels (action of reading is not completed at present.) I am taking a class that ends on a certain date. Before that event of the ending of the class occurs, another action, which is currently incomplete, will be completed: namely, the act of reading Austen's novels, which is now incomplete, will be completed on or before the ending date of the class. All of that "meaning" can be compressed into the much less complicated future perfect tense statment that "I shall have read" all of the novels.

    Your example "Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen" not only does not mean the same thing, but is very unnatural English -- indeed, I am not quite sure exactly what that sentence means.

    Try this:
    George (speaking to his wife on the telephone) I am on my way home from work now. When I get home, I want to read the new Harry Potter book we bought. I know you were reading it today -- have you finished it yet?
    Martha: I have not finished it yet, but I will have finished it by the time you get home.

    In AE, it is very common to omit the participle of the verb in question when using future perfect tense:
    I have not finished it yet, but I will have by the time you get home.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Your suggestion is not as idiomatic:
    OK, I can accept an explanation that my sentence is not idiomatic to you. But, on the other hand, it sounds completely natural to a native speaker. It also lacks no artistic or logical caracteristics.

    I would rather ask whether you could give me an example of the sentence where the FPT could not be substituted in a similar way, or where the FPT is obligatory.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I would simply say: I haven't finished it yet, but I will until you get home.
    You might say that, but you would certainly confuse native speakers of English if you did. What in the world is "I will finished" supposed to mean? And what is that "until" doing there -- are you suggesting that the book will be finished until George gets home, but then somehow it will no longer be finished, and will return to being unread?

    This sentence is not only unnatural, but makes no sense.
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    OK, I can accept an explanation that my sentence is not idiomatic to you. But, on the other hand, it sounds completely natural to a native speaker. It also lacks no artistic or logical caracteristics.

    I would rather ask whether you could give me an example of the sentence where the FPT could not be substituted in a similar way, or where the FPT is obligatory.
    In my view, greenwhiteblue cannot be any more correct in this matter. I think most (or virtually all) native speakers of English would stare back at you utterly confused if you said this sentence. I, myself, have literally sat here for 6 minutes trying to understand what "Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen" could possibly mean. They seem like two unconnected thoughts.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    You might say that, but you would certainly confuse native speakers of English if you did...
    OK, OK, but what about this one:

    I haven't finished yet, but I will finish reading by the time you get home.


    It sounds quite OK to me, and it doesn't have the Future Prerfect Tense (wich I don't find useful).
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In my view, greenwhiteblue cannot be any more correct in this matter. I think most (or virtually all) native speakers of English would stare back at you utterly confused if you said this sentence. I, myself, have literally sat here for 6 minutes trying to understand what "Until I complete the class, I will read all the novels of Jane Austen" could possibly mean. They seem like two unconnected thoughts.
    I'm not quite with you, HistofEng. I think the thought is bizarre but the meaning is surely clear, and I don't see anything unidiomatic about the sentence.
    There's a moment in the future when he will complete the class. During the period between now and then he's saying he will read, and go on reading, all the novels of Jane Austen. He sounds like those painters on the Forth Bridge who, when the finish one end, go straight away and restart on the other. It's an improbable thought, but I really don't see anything incorrect or unidiomatic about the sentence as a way of expressing it.
     

    xiaoJ

    Senior Member
    US - English
    "Until" seems to be a big problem here. Allow me to help correct that one sentence (as this may help clarify the discussion a bit for magixo):

    Until I finish the class, I will not have read all the books of Jane Austen.
    =
    By the time I finish the class, I will have read all the books of Jane Austen.
    (Yes, slight connotation difference, but essentially the same base meaning.)

    The "have" that makes this future perfect is absolutely necessary in both sentences. In rapid speech it often sounds like "of" and can be hard to pick out.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    OK, OK, but what about this one:

    I haven't finished yet, but I will finish reading by the time you get home.


    It sounds quite OK to me, and it doesn't have the Future Perfect Tense (which I don't find useful).
    It probably "sounds quite OK" to you because you are not a native speaker. To a native speaker, your new sentence is a little more understandable than the other examples you provided (which, I will note, you also considered "quite OK", but which native speakers found completely incomprehensible), but it is still not natural and sounds odd. There would not be a problem in saying "I will finish the book after you get home", because the action of completing the book will follow your arrival home. However, if you are trying to say that you will complete one action in the future, but at a future time that precedes yet another future action or event, your use of the simple future merely makes the sentence confusing. You are using a tense that would be appropriate for describing an action that will, grammatically, be in the future of everything in the sentence, but which in fact will be in the past when your arrival takes place -- and that need to express the order in which the events will happen is precisely why the future perfect tense exists.

    The future perfect tense gives clarity to the sequence of events. Since the use of that tense would make immediately clear an idea that your repeated attempts, while avoiding the future perfect tense, have only made confusing, it is obvious that the future perfect is far from "useless".
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I would rather ask whether you could give me an example of the sentence where the FPT could not be substituted in a similar way, or where the FPT is obligatory.
    How about this scenario:

    Two men, Smith and Wesson, are in a bar in the Wild West. In walks Dead-Eye Dick. Smith makes a move with his hand towards his holster. Wesson quietly cautions him:

    Wesson: "Don't do it, Smith. Before you even have your gun out of your holster he'll have pumped you full of lead."

    There is a distinct sequence of events here. The future perfect tense makes it clear that Smith's action of getting his gun out of his holster will not be complete before Dead-Eye Dick has shot him several times. It's possible to communicate this without the future perfect tense but it certainly wouldn't be as clear (or as dramatic. :) ) The future perfect allows you to describe two hypothetical future events, one completing before the other.

    You could say, "He will pump you full of lead before you even have your gun out of your holster" but this removes some of the hypothetical tone that the future perfect lends, in my opinion.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Well, we can do away with pretty much every tense but present and manage to get what we mean through somehow: "I finish the book, then you come". "I finish book yesterady, I finish class tomorrow. I finish book before finish class" :D

    Jokes aside, the examples all seem to inculde "until". As many have said before me, until + simple future means that something will go on up to that moment and then will stop. "Until" gives us the point where one thing ends and another begins.

    I will swim until I reach the shore.
    I will read until you get home.
    I will finish until you get home. (That one doesn't make much sense to me to tell you the truth since finishing is not something that can be of long duration in any cicumstances that I know of. You cannot, in other words, go on finishing until the moment something else occurs).

    To take one of your examples: "No, I haven't finished it. But I will finish it in about an hour. In other words, I will have finished it by 11/by the time you get home/etc".
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    The future perfect tense gives clarity to the sequence of events. Since the use of that tense would make immediately clear an idea that your repeated attempts, while avoiding the future perfect tense, have only made confusing, it is obvious that the future perfect is far from "useless".
    Well, I must confess that, in my opinion, not very many languges use the concept of the Future Perfet Tense. I can claim that I am pretty familiar with Italian, but I have never heard of such a thing as the Future Perfect Tense.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    How about this scenario:

    Before you even have your gun out of your holster he'll have pumped you full of lead.
    I would say with my pigeon English:

    (1) Before you even take your gun out of your holster, I will have pumped you with lead. (Is that grammatically correct?)

    OR EVEN

    (2) Before you even take your gun out of your holster, I will pumpe you with lead. (Is that grammatically correct?)
    Is this sentece confusing you with the meaning, or is it just odd to your ear?

    Thanks,
    Magixo
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Well, I must confess that, in my opinion, not very many languges use the concept of the Future Perfet Tense. I can claim that I am pretty familiar with Italian, but I have never heard of such a thing as the Future Perfect Tense.
    Hi Magixo,

    This link http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare183a.htm explains the future pefect in Italian: it's formed just like the future perfect in French and English (future of to have + the past participle).
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Well, I must confess that, in my opinion, not very many languges use the concept of the Future Perfet Tense. I can claim that I am pretty familiar with Italian, but I have never heard of such a thing as the Future Perfect Tense.
    Other languages are not English, and therefore should not be expected to use English vocabulary, spelling, word order, or grammar. On the other hand, when one is speaking English, as opposed to another language, all of the above are certainly used.

    All the same, the future perfect tense is in fact not an oddity of English. Latin has a future perfect tense, as do the languages derived from Latin, such as Spanish, French, and Italian. Germanic languages also have a future perfect tense.

    I will also note that it is not surprising that you have not heard of the "future perfect tense" in Italian, as "future perfect tense" is an English phrase. In Italian, with which you are familiar, the tense in question is called the futuro anteriore.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I would say with my pigeon English:

    (1) Before you even take your gun out of your holster, I will have pumped you with lead. (Is that grammatically correct?)

    OR EVEN

    (2) Before you even take your gun out of your holster, I will pumpe you with lead. (Is that grammatically correct?)
    Is this sentece confusing you with the meaning, or is it just odd to your ear?

    Thanks,
    Magixo
    "Pumped you with lead" doesn't sound very idiomatic. :) It's understandable, though.

    I don't see anything wrong with the first sentence grammatically. You are using the future perfect tense here. This sentence predicts a future event based on a conditional action. In other words, "If you try to take your gun out of your holster, I will already have put several bullets in you before you succeed in removing it from your holster."

    The second sentence is clear, but it is a simple prediction. It indicates your intention but there is no condition involved. It's simply a prediction of what is about to happen. "I am going to shoot you, and knowing this, you won't even be able to get your gun out of the holster. I'm that fast."

    At least, that's how I read these sentences.
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    The second sentence is clear,....
    Yes, that's what I am trying to say all the time. It is not grammatically wrong and it conveys the clear meaning. Or, in other words, it is possible to rewrite any sentence with the Future Perfect Tense in such a way to avoid it (using the simple will future), and not to lose the meaning or the logic of the sentence. This is not possible with other tenses in English language. For example, with the Past Perfect Tense.

    I haven't found a simple example to make me change my conclusion by now.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Yes, that's what I am trying to say all the time. It is not grammatically wrong and it conveys the clear meaning.
    Yes, the meaning is clear, but the meaning is different.

    Or, in other words, it is possible to rewrite any sentence with the Future Perfect Tense in such a way to avoid it (using the simple will future), and not to lose the meaning or the logic of the sentence.
    No, I don't think you're understanding what I'm saying, then. The meaning is different. In my example, one speaks about a hypothetical situation (future perfect) while one states a prediction of fact (future).

    I can see what you're saying. It's possible to convey much of the same information, but the mood and tone are different. You definitely have me pondering this now. :)
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    In my example, one speaks about a hypothetical situation (future perfect) while one states a prediction of fact (future).
    Well, you mean

    If you took your gun out of your pocket, I would fill you with ten bullets.

    Well, OK. But I would rather like to smooth the temporal sentences out:

    1 Befor you take your gun out of your pocket, I will have filled you with ten bullets.

    2 Before you take your gun out of your pocket, I will fill you with ten bullets.

    Sincerely,
    Magixo
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Here's another example. I hope it's a little clearer than my previous one.

    Don't worry: by the time you hit the ground, your parachute will have opened.
    Don't worry: by the time you hit the ground, your parachute will open. ;)

    Obviously, you want the parachute to be open before you hit the ground. Yes, you can re-state the second sentence to communicate the same information in a different way and avoid the future perfect tense, but you can't merely replace one with the other. The beauty of the future perfect is that it sets two points in time in one sentence and indicates the order of events. I wouldn't call that "useless." I would call that "elegant."
     

    Magixo

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    OR

    (1) I haven't finished my job yet. But by the time you come home, I will have done it.

    (2) I haven't finished my job yet. But by the time you come home, I will do it.

    To me, the same thing. No need for the Future Paste Perfect. Do you agree?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    OR

    (1) I haven't finish my job yet. But by the time you come home, I will have done it.

    (2) I haven't finish my job yet. But by the time you come home, I will do it.

    To me, the same thing. No need for the Future Paste Perfect. Do you agree?
    (haven't finished)

    No. This is actually something that comes up with my children, so I recognize the difference. :) (1) means that it will be done by the time I walk in the door; actually, it means it will be done at least a moment before I get home. (2) means that it will be either finished or be in the process of being finished. There is no commitment in (2) that the job will be finished before I arrive home, only that the job will be started before I come home. This loophole was used many times in my house before I started getting very legalistic about the language of the promise. :)

    (The second one sounds odd to my ear, but that's a different matter.)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Thank you for telling me this. That's what I thought at the very beginning of this discussion. There's no logical or 'grammatical' need for the FPT. It might be only esthetic.
    "Grammatical needs" is an interesting concept. I think it's actually a very fuzzy line to attempt to draw. As ireney said:

    Well, we can do away with pretty much every tense but present and manage to get what we mean through somehow: "I finish the book, then you come". "I finish book yesterady, I finish class tomorrow. I finish book before finish class" :D
    It's humorous but accurate. Is there any more "grammatical need" for a future tense than there is for a future perfect tense? To me, it simply allows us to communicate action more clearly to say "I will finish the book tomorrow" than "I finish the book tomorrow", but it isn't actually necessary. Either one is actually grammatically correct but one includes a framework that more clearly states the time relationship. I think future perfect is just an extension of that clarity.
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    Don't worry: by the time you hit the ground, your parachute will have opened.
    Don't worry: by the time you hit the ground, your parachute will open. ;)

    Obviously, you want the parachute to be open before you hit the ground.
    This is a fun and very illustrative example.:)

    The second sentence allows for a scenario in which the parachute opens upon you hitting the ground. The first one constrains the temporal sequence of events and is thus more precise (depending on what you want to say), precision being an attribute that makes tenses useful.
     
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