Use of modal+have+past participle to refer to the future?

thetazuo

Senior Member
Chinese - China
“We both loved Blanche. There would have been room for him in my mother's house. I think the company of poor, simple people would have done his soul a great good. I think he might have learnt from them something that would be very useful to him”

Excerpt from The Moon and Sixpence
W Somerset Maugham

Hi. The context is that Strickland and Stroeve both loved Blanche, who had been the wife of the latter. Now that Blanche was dead, Stroeve didn’t blame Strickland but invited Strickland to go to Stroeve’s home, which was in the countryside, when Stroeve said the quoted sentences to Strickland.

My question is, since Strickland’s going to his home is in the future, why did the author use the structure “modal + have + past participle”, as in the three bold parts?
Thank you.
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I assume Strickland rejected Stroeve's invitation or something prevented him from coming. The parts in bold are therefore past hypotheticals.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    :idea:
    Yes, the following text goes “He(Strickland) said he had other fish to fry.”, so Strickland did turn down Stroeve’s offer.
    So these three “modal+have+past participle”s are used to refer to an imagined future which is not to be realized, as in “If Strickland hadn’t refused to come (e.g. yesterday), there would have been room for him in Stroeve’s mother's house ...”, alone the same lines as this example “If the Chinese government hadn't turned this area into a nature reserve last year, the whole herd would have been dead within five years from now.”, right?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Strickland's going to live in his mother's house was a future possibility in that past time of which he's talking.
    We know that he didn't do this. 'He will be happy there' becomes 'he would have been happy there'.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    How do you know it's in the future? What part of the text tells you that?
    “What did you say to Strickland when you saw him?'
    'I asked him to come with me to Holland.'
    I was dumbfounded. I could only look at Stroeve in stupid amazement.

    Strickland was currently in Paris, and Stroeve asked him to go to Holland, so it was in the future.
    Cross-posted
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Strickland's going to live in his mother's house was a future possibility in that past time of which he's talking.
    We know that he didn't do this. 'He will be happy there' becomes 'he would have been happy there'.
    Thank you. But future in the past uses “would”, not “would have”; and it is used in reported speech, not direct speech, as in “I knew Julie would make dinner.” So I think the op example is more like a counterfactual third conditional than future in the past, unless you see a third conditional as a use of future in the past. (?)
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    “What did you say to Strickland when you saw him?'
    'I asked him to come with me to Holland.'
    I was dumbfounded. I could only look at Stroeve in stupid amazement.

    Strickland was currently in Paris, and Stroeve asked him to go to Holland, so it was in the future.
    Cross-posted
    Thanks. In that case, I agree with Hermione:
    Strickland's going to live in his mother's house was a future possibility in that past time of which he's talking.
    We know that he didn't do this. 'He will be happy there' becomes 'he would have been happy there'.
    I also agree with this:
    So I think the op example is more like a counterfactual third conditional
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Unrealised future in the past, yes.

    "He will be happy at our house if he comes"

    I told you he would be happy if he came! He did come and he was happy.

    Had he come he would have been happy, but he didn't.
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thank you both.
    So do you think the op example is the same use as “If the Chinese government hadn't turned this area into a nature reserve last year, the whole herd would have been dead within five years from now.”?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    So do you think the op example is the same use as “If the Chinese government hadn't turned this area into a nature reserve last year, the whole herd would have been dead within five years from now.”?
    I see that as a standard type III conditional, which presents a scenario effectively reversing what actually happened.

    Because the area was in fact turned into a nature reserve, the possibility of the herd being dead in five years' time in now in the past. :)
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    I see that as a standard type III conditional, which presents a scenario effectively reversing what actually happened.

    Because the area was in fact turned into a nature reserve, the possibility of the herd being dead in five years' time in now in the past. :)
    Thank you, Donny. So this nature reserve example uses “would have” in the same way as the op example, as in “Because Strickland did in fact refuse the offer, the possibility of there being room for him in the speaker’s mother's house is now in the past”. So the op example is also a type III conditional which presents a scenario effectively reversing what actually happened.
    Right?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it is easier to put it this way: the type 3 conditional is tenseless. We work out from the context whether the untrue scenario and its consequence are in the past, present or future.

    A good reason for knowing that a scenario is untrue is if it did not happen in the past; but this is not the only possible good reason. "Daddy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow but the tiger is going to be away for the day. If he hadn't been away we would have seen him."

    (I suspect that the type 2 conditional is also tenseless, though it mostly refers to the present or future.)
     
    Last edited:

    loviii

    Senior Member
    russian
    Daddy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow but the tiger is going to be away for the day. If he hadn't been away we would have seen him.
    Could you tell me which of the remaining variants are also appropriate here?
    (1) If he hasn't been away we would see him.
    (2) If he hadn't been away we would see him.
    (3) If he hasn't been away we would have seen him.

    Thanks!
     
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