Yesterday he left tomorrow.

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Hiden

Senior Member
japanese
(1) expresses an "arranged-future-in-the-past". In the example, which day does “tomorrow” refer to, “today” or “tomorrow” seen from the present (i.e. two days after yesterday)?

(1) Yesterday he left tomorrow. (Huddleston (1969: 787f.))
 
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    We would never say this. Huddleston comments that he believes 'they are not to be in any way ungrammatical', but apparently gives no examples of genuine uses of this. The problem is 'tomorrow', which deictically refers to tomorrow, not to "the next day". It is unusual to say that yesterday he was going to leave on the following day, and there are various ways this can be said with various tenses, but not with 'tomorrow', which is not relative.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    We would never say this. Huddleston comments that he believes 'they are not to be in any way ungrammatical', but apparently gives no examples of genuine uses of this. The problem is 'tomorrow', which deictically refers to tomorrow, not to "the next day". It is unusual to say that yesterday he was going to leave on the following day, and there are various ways this can be said with various tenses, but not with 'tomorrow', which is not relative.
    I have checked his book. His example was "Now he leaves tomorrow." and he comments that he believes "Yesterday he left tomorrow" is not to be in any way ungrammatical.' From your comment, it seems like native English speakers read tomorrow as "two days after yesterday". Thank you for your answer. It helps.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If yesterday he said 'I leave tomorrow,' then today we might want to report that: 'Yesterday he said he left today.' (We don't know whether he did leave, or if plans changed.) We might also report it yesterday as 'He leaves tomorrow', and today as 'He leaves today.' But you can't combine these as 'Yesterday he leaves tomorrow.'

    The above is on the assumption that 'tomorrow' was deictic when he said it yesterday, so we say 'today' today. (Isn't this fun?) But of course if on Tuesday he said 'I leave on Thursday,' then today on Wednesday we would correspondingly report 'He leaves tomorrow,' but still not :cross:'Yesterday he leaves tomorrow.'

    'Yesterday he was going to leave tomorrow': This is just fine. He had a plan or intention yesterday. Today if I have a plan or intention to leave tomorrow I can say 'I leave tomorrow' with the present tense. But I can't say 'yesterday I leave', regardless of the intended time of leaving (even if it was also yesterday). This is getting complicated. The implied future in present 'I leave' seems to be future-in-present, and can't be future-in-past, which is what the original sentence was trying to say.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    'Yesterday he was going to leave tomorrow': This is just fine. He had a plan or intention yesterday.
    Thank you for clarification. Could you let me me confirm the sentence "Yesterday he was going to leave tomorrow"? So, you read it as "He will leave tomorrow", don't you?
     
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    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Thank you for clarification. Could you let me me confirm the sentence "Yesterday he was going to leave tomorrow"? So, you read it as "He will leave tomorrow", don't you?
    Actually, I don't read it as anything, other than something which should have been proofread better than it was. :p

    Seriously, as something which appears to form an exercise in logic in a grammar textbook it just sounds a bit odd but I daresay it might possibly be comprehensible in the full context. In real life, no-one would say that. You could try salvaging it by, for example, tinkering with it slightly to say "Yesterday, he had intended leaving tomorrow" which appears to mean that yesterday he'd planned this impending departure for tomorrow (i.e. the day after today) but this type of exercise in deliberately creating ambiguous or unclear sentences is of relatively little value in my opinion. Sorry.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I agree with DonnyB. This sort of theoretical dialogue is entirely useless in learning or even understanding real English. Let's pin it down. There are two possible scenarios, which (with a few minor variations) can be expressed thus, first in direct speech and then in reported speech:
    • Today is Wednesday.
    • Yesterday he said "I leave tomorrow".
    • Yesterday he said that he would be leaving today.
    Or else:
    • Today is Wednesday.
    • Yesterday he said "I leave on Thursday".
    • Yesterday he said that he would be leaving tomorrow.
    The sentence "Yesterday he left tomorrow" is nonsense.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    I don't 'read' it at all. It just sounds odd.
    Thank you for your insight. You've been helpful.

    Actually, I don't read it as anything, other than something which should have been proofread better than it was ....
    As always thank you for your insightful feedback. I'm most grateful for helping me out.

    I agree with DonnyB. This sort of theoretical dialogue is entirely useless in learning or even understanding real English. ....
    .....The sentence "Yesterday he left tomorrow" is nonsense.
    As always, thank you for your detailed explanation. It really helps a lot.
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    This is the example I was talking about. It is from Huddleston (1969: 787f.).
    スクリーンショット (152).png
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's difficult to see where Huddleston is coming from on the basis of that short extract.

    The two examples may be 'in no way ungrammatical'. But while I can, with a degree of effort, think of a scenario in which I might say (50), I can't think of any scenario in which I'd say (51).
     

    Hiden

    Senior Member
    japanese
    It's difficult to see where Huddleston is coming from on the basis of that short extract.

    The two examples may be 'in no way ungrammatical'. But while I can, with a degree of effort, think of a scenario in which I might say (50), I can't think of any scenario in which I'd say (51).
    As always, thank you for your insight. It helps.
     
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