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    #1

    will in the past

    I am currently reading an American book which has some passages using the auxiliary "will" with a past idea:

    One of my favorite tasks of being a senator is hosting town meetings. I held thirty-nine of them my first year in the Senate [ ... ] My staff will call up the high school, library, or community college to see if they're willing to host the event [ ... ] On the day of the meeting I'll show up a half hour early [ ... ] And then, for the next hour or so, I answer to the people who sent me to Washington. [ ... ]
    At the end of the meeting, people will usually come up to shake hands, take pictures [ ... ] (The Audacity of Hope from Barack Obama)

    It is amazing to observe such use of "will" with past idea. Also the simple present (verb "answer" in bold above) and the present continuos ("they're willing") have past ideas above, so it is not simply a matter of modals.

    If one changes above "wills" to "woulds", how does it change the meanings?

    By the way, I am not sure "I'll" in the text stands for "I will" and not "I shall".

    Maybe someone could comment on the subject?

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    #2

    Exclamation Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I am currently reading an American book which has some passages using the auxiliary "will" with a past idea:

    One of my favorite tasks of being a senator is hosting town meetings. I held thirty-nine of them my first year in the Senate [ ... ] My staff will call up the high school, library, or community college to see if they're willing to host the event [ ... ] On the day of the meeting I'll show up a half hour early [ ... ] And then, for the next hour or so, I answer to the people who sent me to Washington. [ ... ]
    At the end of the meeting, people will usually come up to shake hands, take pictures [ ... ] (The Audacity of Hope from Barack Obama)

    It is amazing to observe such use of "will" with past idea. Also the simple present (verb "answer" in bold above) and the present continuos ("they're willing") have past ideas above, so it is not simply a matter of modals.

    If one changes above "wills" to "woulds", how does it change the meanings?

    By the way, I am not sure "I'll" in the text stands for "I will" and not "I shall".

    Maybe someone could comment on the subject?
    What is the difference between tense and time?

    Tense: classifies verbs as:
    present tense
    or past tense
    Time: classifies situations described by verbs according to whether they occur at some time:
    in the past,
    in the present
    or in the future

    Stories/past events are normally written/spoken in the past tense:
    Example: A shot rang out. It came from the hill above them. Jake dived to the ground and cautiously crawled behind a rock for cover.

    But a deliberate choice can be made to tell a story in the present tense:
    A shot rings out. It comes from the hill above them. Jake dives to the ground and cautiously crawls behind a rock for cover.

    The vivid present conveys a sense of immediacy and allows you to express the event as if it is currently happening. Also ‘would’ is a past form of ‘will’ which is construed as the present form. As you can see, the meaning of the story does not change by describing in the present tense. So replacing ‘will’ with ‘would’ does not make any difference.
    Last edited by sarat_106; 20-Oct-2009 at 11:49.

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    #3

    Re: will in the past

    Thank you very much for your contribution sarat_106. I feel that this subject is rich and there is plenty of room for other member's comments as well. It is indeed interesting.

    I would like to point out the following:
    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    What is the difference between tense and time?

    Tense: classifies verbs as:
    present tense
    or past tense
    Time: classifies situations described by verbs according to whether they occur at some time:
    in the past,
    in the present
    or in the future
    I understand there is a difference, but to say that "tense" is something that classifies verbs in present tense or past tense does not help much.
    I do not have any other reference to compare with, so I do not know what is "tense". I only know that although it may not refer to "real time" it is somehow related to time.

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    Also ‘would’ is a past form of ‘will’ which is construed as the present form.
    I agree with you, but this is a very controversial affirmative, many UsingEnglish members have been discussing it. See http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...413-shall.html for instance.


    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    As you can see, the meaning of the story does not change by describing in the present tense. So replacing ‘will’ with ‘would’ does not make any difference.
    I am not sure about it yet. I'll think deeper about it.

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    #4

    Exclamation Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I understand there is a difference, but to say that "tense" is something that classifies verbs in present tense or past tense does not help much.
    I do not have any other reference to compare with, so I do not know what is "tense". I only know that although it may not refer to "real time" it is somehow related to time.
    Hi Ymnisky, You agree that verb describes action and tense tells or is related to time. An action can be indefinite, continuous or perfect and accordingly a verb has three forms; simple, continuous and perfect. Of course, there is a fourth form to express intermittent action or its duration, called perfect continuous. To talk about three different times i.e. present, past or future, we use 12 tense forms. They are present simple, present continuous, present simple perfect, present simple perfect continuous and so on.

    But you will kindly notice that Future time is described by verbs in the present tense only, some times using present simple, present continuous, or using going to or will which is a modal verb. As is known modals have no tense. So future tense has no special identity like the past tense.

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    #5

    Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    Hi Ymnisky, You agree that verb describes action and tense tells or is related to time. An action can be indefinite, continuous or perfect and accordingly a verb has three forms; simple, continuous and perfect. Of course, there is a fourth form to express intermittent action or its duration, called perfect continuous. To talk about three different times i.e. present, past or future, we use 12 tense forms. They are present simple, present continuous, present simple perfect, present simple perfect continuous and so on.

    But you will kindly notice that Future time is described by verbs in the present tense only, some times using present simple, present continuous, or using going to or will which is a modal verb. As is known modals have no tense. So future tense has no special identity like the past tense.
    Thanks again sarat_106! I am aware of that controversy regarding tenses
    in English verbs - I have already written my opinion about it:
    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by albeit
    in fact, all modal verbs in modern day English are tenseless.
    Deciding whether such modal verbs in modern English have or have not tense will not change their everyday usage. Usually English native speakers use all of them correctly. When usage mistakes occur that is not because the speaker thinks about 'tenses'.

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit
    There is no relationship in modern English between any of the modal verbs as regards tense.

    If you want to say they are all tenseless, that is ok, I don't see any problem. That is a systematic classification, you are modelling language to study it, that is good. But that is one possible model, not the very only one. Anyone else who wants to study language classifying those modals according to tense has his rights.

    It is a fact that all the examples presented in this post have an equivalent in other languages. And in many of those languages, those example tenses do have a 'tense', even though the idea does not correspond to that exact tense.

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit
    "Whatever business challenges you face, it is highly likely that another member of your group will have already tackled it. ..

    As you will have already seen I have changed the colour scheme.
    Let us take exactly those examples above. Although you use 'will', these senteces do not have refer to future actions, ok. However, if you express them in other languages, they will be classified in some kind of 'future tense', with the very same meaning in English, that is, without referring to a future action. To fix the ideas you may think in Portuguese, but other similar languages will do as well. In those languages, one has much more than one simple future, but several different futures [ futuro do presente (present future), futuro do pretério (past future), etc ]. Depending on the situation, one uses a 'future tense' without properly referring to a future action. So what you are claiming to be a big grammar historical mistake runs the same way in other languages besides English.
    That is something I've written another day while discussint another thread, and at the present, that is still my current opinion.


    Returning to our discussion
    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    Of course, there is a fourth form to express intermittent action or its duration, called perfect continuous. To talk about three different times i.e. present, past or future, we use 12 tense forms. They are present simple, present continuous, present simple perfect, present simple perfect continuous and so on.
    hmm, that is interesting. I had never been aware of why we call such tenses as "perfect", now you have given me a clue. And I didn't know that magic number 12 either. To be precisely, what are the exact 12 tenses?
    - present simple (I study English every day.)
    - present continuous (I am studying English right now.)
    - present simple perfect (I have studied Engish for 10 years.)
    - present simple perfect continuos (I have been studying English for 10 years.)
    - past simple (I studied English yesterday)
    - past continuous (I was studying English when you called.)
    - past simple perfect (I wish I had studied more for this test.)
    - past simple perfect continuous (I had been studying English for 8 years when I decided to begin studying German.)

    Are the ones I included above correct? What are exactly the other 4?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    But you will kindly notice that Future time is described by verbs in the present tense only, some times using present simple, present continuous, or using going to or will which is a modal verb. As is known modals have no tense. So future tense has no special identity like the past tense.
    Yes, I keep hearing this more and more. It is interesting, I kind of agree. I hadn't noticed it when I began studying English, and I guess my current intermmediate English students are not aware of it. For instance I have recently read albeit's post http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/ge...ure-tense.html on this subject.

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    #6

    Exclamation Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    hmm, that is interesting. I had never been aware of why we call such tenses as "perfect", now you have given me a clue. And I didn't know that magic number 12 either. To be precisely, what are the exact 12 tenses?
    - present simple (I study English every day.)
    - present continuous (I am studying English right now.)
    - present simple perfect (I have studied Engish for 10 years.)
    - present simple perfect continuos (I have been studying English for 10 years.)
    - past simple (I studied English yesterday)
    - past continuous (I was studying English when you called.)
    - past simple perfect (I wish I had studied more for this test.)
    - past simple perfect continuous (I had been studying English for 8 years when I decided to begin studying German.)

    Are the ones I included above correct? Yes, they are fine
    What are exactly the other 4? As given below.

    We will go to study abroad next semester (future simple-most likely)
    we are going to study abroad next semester. (Future simple – preplanned/definite)
    He'll be playing tennis at four this afternoon. (future continuous)
    She'll have read the book by the time you arrive. (future perfect)
    I will have been working for four hours from next week. (future perfect continuous)
    As a matter of fact there can be no end to learning English language.
    It is all the more fascinating because it contains large number of rules with equal number of exceptions. So the more you go deep into it, there is every likelyhood of getting confused.

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    #7

    Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    As a matter of fact there can be no end to learning English language.
    It is all the more fascinating because it contains large number of rules with equal number of exceptions. So the more you go deep into it, there is every likelyhood of getting confused.
    Yes, indeed it is too confusing. It is not that easy at all.
    I thought you had said in English there are no future tenses. But now I think I undestand what you mean, we do have future tenses as you classified above, but there is no special "mark" for the future. That is what I used to think, maybe better than the radical opinion "there is no future tense in English".

    By the way, what about the nomenclature "immediate future", is it used ?

    As I see 12 is not a "magic number" here, your list seems to have 13 tenses rather than 12 (two simple futures). But if I understand what you are trying to say, you mean 12 comes from 3 x 4, that is 3 tenses or times (past, present and future) times 4 forms of action (indefinite, continuous, perfect and intermittent). Is that the idea?

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    #8

    Exclamation Re: will in the past

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Yes, indeed it is too confusing. It is not that easy at all.
    I thought you had said in English there are no future tenses. But now I think I undestand what you mean, we do have future tenses as you classified above, but there is no special "mark" for the future. That is what I used to think, maybe better than the radical opinion "there is no future tense in English".

    By the way, what about the nomenclature "immediate future", is it used ?

    As I see 12 is not a "magic number" here, your list seems to have 13 tenses rather than 12 (two simple futures). But if I understand what you are trying to say, you mean 12 comes from 3 x 4, that is 3 tenses or times (past, present and future) times 4 forms of action (indefinite, continuous, perfect and intermittent). Is that the idea?
    Yes, what you mean is abolutely correct.

    immediate future means a future time not very far or near future.
    We do not need these materials in the immediate future.
    We do not need these materials in near future.

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