When do you think you will finish these letters?

Bob8964

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, if my boss asks me: When do you think you will finish these letters? I wonder I should use "will finish" or "will have finished" if I want to express my estimate with "by...", for example:

I (will finish or will have finished?) by 3 this afternoon.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I don't think it matters, there is no big difference. But you do need to add "them" before "by".
    I have a slight preference for "I will have finished them by 3" because there is a slight ambiguity with "I will finish them by 3" in that it could mean you will start the task of finishing them by 3, but they won't actually be ready at 3.
    You can also say "I will have them finished by 3", which means the same thing but has a different structure.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    A: When do you think you will finish these letters?
    B: "By three." (You don't need half of the sentence.)

    As I see it:

    I will finish by 3 this afternoon. -> You will finish at 3pm. This looks from now until 3pm.
    I will have finished by 3 this afternoon. -> At 3pm, you will have just finished. This looks back from a time shortly after 3pm.
    I will be finished by 3 this afternoon. -> You will finish at 3pm. This looks from now until 3pm.

    Are all possible and valid

     

    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    A: When do you think you will finish these letters?
    B: "By three." (You don't need half of the sentence.)

    As I see it:

    I will finish by 3 this afternoon. -> You will finish at 3pm. This looks from now until 3pm.
    I will have finished by 3 this afternoon. -> At 3pm, you will have just finished. This looks back from a time shortly after 3pm.
    I will be finished by 3 this afternoon. -> You will finish at 3pm. This looks from now until 3pm.
    Paul, let me ask one more question: for your first choice, ie, "I will finish by 3 this afternoon. -> You will finish at 3pm. This looks from now until 3pm." I wonder if "will finish" means an intention?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Will expresses
    1. a prediction: "My team will beat yours"
    2. or an intention: "I will go to town tomorrow and buy a new watch."
    3. or a definite future event: "I will be executed tomorrow."
    Although we do not know if what has been said is an intention or a prediction as there is no context, it is likely to be a prediction.
     
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