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  1. #1
    spongie's Avatar
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    Default should be / should have been

    Let's imagine a situation in which I am waiting for my friends because I have invited them for dinner. Their presence is crucial but they are running late. Which expression to this situation is correct and better?

    (1) They should be here by now!

    (2) They should have been here by now!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    Only #1 is appropriate for your intended meaning.

  3. #3
    spongie's Avatar
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    I used #1 during my class and I was corrected that it should be #2.

    Could sentence #2 be correct in some other context?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    For me, both are fine. #2 has more of an idea that you expected them before now.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    I agree that they're both acceptable and you'll hear both. The only distinction I might make is that you could perhaps use:

    They should be here by now.
    They should have been here by 8.

    The first gives a more "present" idea, and the second that the time for them to arrive has passed.

  6. #6
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I agree that they're both acceptable and you'll hear both.
    Yes, they are both certainly acceptable in the sense of 'grammatically possible', but the questioner makes it clear that (s)he is concerned solely with their presence or otherwise at the time of speaking, to which only

    They should be here by now.

    refers, while

    They should have been here by now.

    includes the possibility that they have already come and gone at some earlier time.

    I therefore fail to see how the second sentence could be deemed equal to the first in terms of appropriateness in the specified context.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    They should have been here by now.

    includes the possibility that they have already come and gone at some earlier time.

    The 'by now' makes that reading rather unlikely, I think.

    I therefore fail to see how the second sentence could be deemed equal to the first in terms of appropriateness in the specified context.
    It is quite natural if the speaker is thinking if their being here for some time.
    ps. There are seven equally natural examples in COCA
    Last edited by 5jj; 06-Feb-2012 at 06:54. Reason: pa added

  8. #8
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    5jj wrote: The 'by now' makes that reading rather unlikely, I think.

    Not in the least!

    'By now' means simply 'at some point before now'. It make NO explicit reference to their presence at the time of speaking.








  9. #9
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    'By now' means simply 'at some point before now'.
    'By now' suggests to me 'at some point in the time period leading up to, and including, the present moment'.

  10. #10
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: should be / should have been

    Quote Originally Posted by spongie View Post
    Let's imagine a situation in which I am waiting for my friends because I have invited them for dinner. Their presence is crucial but they are running late. Which expression to this situation is correct and better?

    (1) They should be here by now!

    (2) They should have been here by now!
    Your question gave rise to a fascinating discussion, spongie.

    In a real life situation I'd happily use either of those expressions.

    Rover

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