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  1. #1
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    Default Verb tenses (future perfect)

    I was reading about different parts of speech and I have stumbled upon verb tenses. For the active future perfect tense a person wrote "I will have seen"
    and for passive voice "I will have been seen." Anyway, 'I will have seen' does not make much sense to me for some reason and I would like to ask somebody for their help and some kind of explanation if possible, is this correct or not? Thanks for your help.

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    Default Re: Verb tenses (future perfect)

    The future perfect is used to describe an action that is not complete now, but will be complete at some definite point in the future.

    First consider the present perfect. Take a sentence like "I have written a letter." What this is means is this: there now exists a letter written by me. The focus of the present perfect is on the result of the action, and the result is in the present.

    The future perfect is the same, except that the (expected) result is in the future. "At 10 o'clock I will have written a letter" means that at 10 o'clock there will exist a letter written by me.

    That's different from other future forms:

    "I will write a letter" = I have just reached a decision to write a letter.

    "I am going to write a letter" = I have planned to write a letter.

    "I am going out with Jane this evening" = I have made all necessary preparations to go out with Jane this evening

    None of these things says anything about when the action is to be complete, only that the action is to take place. The future perfect focuses on the result of the action. The action could take place at any time, but the result will be evident at the stated time in the future:

    "By the year 2106, George Bush will have died." = although we don't know when Bush will die, we do know that in 2106 there will be a grave or an urn somewhere with him in it.

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    Default Re: Verb tenses (future perfect)

    Thanks for the reply... I can see what you are saying...

    "The focus of the present perfect is on the result of the action, and the result is in the present." What you are saying here is that 'I have written a letter' is the present tense? To my understanding it has already taken action, so should it not be the past tense? Unless, the past, present and future tenses are differently defined from the 'perfect tense?' Can the future forms like " He will write a letter, etc" take the place of "I will have done it" in the future perfect?

    The sentence; He will have died, still seems funny, because will states that something is going to take place in the future, and have died seems that it has already taken place. How can something take place in the future if it already came to pass? Am I on anything here, or is this the sensless mumbling of a provisional student? Any help is welcome, thx.
    Last edited by incognittum; 25-Jun-2006 at 08:21.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Verb tenses (future perfect)

    Quote Originally Posted by incognittum
    What you are saying here is that 'I have written a letter' is the present tense? To my understanding it has already taken action, so should it not be the past tense? Unless, the past, present and future tenses are differently defined from the 'perfect tense?'
    Often we use the word "tense" as shorthand for a whole bunch of related concepts. Strictly speaking, there is no "present perfect tense", but the "perfect aspect of the present tense".

    There is also a difference between a grammatical tense and what it actually relates to. For example, unlike French, English has no true future tense. We use the present tense in various ways to refer to a future event: "I am going to London tomorrow" is the present progressive used to refer to a future event which has already been organised, for example.

    Strictly speaking, English only has two tenses: present and past. All the other constructions we call "tenses" are more a matter of things like modality and aspect.

    In a sentence like "I have made a cake", although the action itself is in the past, the sentence refers to a present state of affairs. Grammatically it is a present tense because the verb "have" is in the present tense. "Made" is the past participle (yes, I know, it's confusing to call it the "past" participle) of "make" and used, amongst other things, to indicate the perfect aspect. The making of the cake is in the past (hence the use of the past participle), but the result is still present -- and it is the result we are interested in.

    If you say "I have made a cake", you're focusing attention on the fact that a cake exists. Perhaps you want to offer me a slice. The cake is here and real.

    Sometimes the result is a little abstract. "I have made cakes before, you know" -- here the result is the experience of cake-making: you are telling me that at this moment you know how to make a cake because you have had plenty of practice.

    "Matt Damon has starred in many films." Here the focus is again on the present: in this case, Matt Damon is still alive now and may star in some more movies; he has the experience and is capable of acting. "Charlie Chaplin made many films" is in the past tense because Chaplin is dead and there is no longer any connection with the present.

    Note that as soon as you mention a definite time in the past, you can no longer use the present perfect: "I made a cake last Wednesday." Now the focus of attention is no longer on the result but on the action itself -- rather, the time the action took place, which is a time in the past. There is no way of knowing, merely by reading the sentence out of context, whether the cake still exists, or has been eaten or stolen. The sentence makes no comment on that.

    "I have opened the window." Present perfect: the window is open.

    "I opened the window but Ralph closed it again." Past: whether the window is now open or closed is not important.

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    Default Re: Verb tenses (future perfect)

    Thank you for your help! :)

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