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    #1

    future in past?

    Hi guys, I' ve struggled to find out the name of the missing tense:

    I work = present
    I worked = past
    I will work = future
    I would work = ?

    I Know we use it very often with conditionals, is this tense called "future in past"?

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    #2

    Re: future in past?

    **Not a teacher**
    It's the subjunctive tense. Basically, you use it whenever you're talking about hypothetical events or events that are unknown/uncertain.
    "I will go" is a definite statement (you will go no matter what)

    "I would go" is a statement with uncertainties (I would go if i had the money, or I would go, but....)

    It is the same tense used for "would" "should" "might" "hope" etc.

    Conditionals also get it because they are hypothetical, and therefore uncertain (e.g. If i were king, the people would love me)

    There is something like the 'future in past'. It is called the Future perfect. It describes something that will be a past action at some point in the future. "When the sun dies, humans will have been long gone" The future event is the The sun dying, but when that happens, the death of humans will be a past event.

    "By the time i graduate, I will have spent 20,000$". The person hasn't spent 20,000$, but he will have at a definite point in the future. Because it is a definite time, it is not subjunctive.
    Compare it with "If i were to graduate, I would have spent 20,000 dollars" Which is subjunctive
    Last edited by LimitedPerspective; 09-Dec-2010 at 22:50.

  1. Johnson_F's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: future in past?

    I work = present - I worked = past - I will work = future ? - I would work = ?
    Many writers on grammar consider that there are only two tenses in English, the present and the past. There are several ways of referring to the future; will + bare infinitive is simply one of these. There are still, unfortunately, some books in which you will find the will + bare infinitive construction referred to as the future (simple).

    The would + bare infinitive construction was, in the past, occasionally referred to as 'the conditional' tense, never the 'subjunctive'.

    Most writers today treat I will/would work as forms involving modals/modal verbs/modal auxiliaries, not as tenses.

  2. Johnson_F's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: future in past?

    Sorry, LP, but I have to come in here:
    It's the subjunctive tense. The Subjunctive is a mood, not a tense.

    "I will go" is a definite statement (you will go no matter what) It can also be an offer, the actualisation of which is not definite.

    Conditionals also get it Get what? because they are hypothetical, and therefore uncertain


    There is something like the 'future in past'. It is called the Future perfect. The so-called 'future-in-the past is very different from what is denoted by the future perfect, which is more like a 'pre post-future'.

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    #5

    Re: future in past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley P View Post
    Hi guys, I' ve struggled to find out the name of the missing tense:

    I work = present
    I worked = past
    I will work = future
    I would work = ?

    I Know we use it very often with conditionals, is this tense called "future in past"?

    In fact, the classification of 'would' can vary considerably depending on both the syntactic context and the authority that one consults. The most traditional and detailed taxonomy reckons it a possible form of 3 moods:

    (1) As a form of the INDICATIVE mood, in sentences expressing past habit, such as

    In my youth, I would often go boating.

    (= I often went...)

    or in indirect speech, as a so-called 'future-in-the-past', i.e. to refer to relative future events in a past context:

    He said that he would be there the next day.


    (= was going to be...)


    (2) As a form of the CONDITIONAL mood, expressing in superordinate clauses the imagined consequences of hypothetical conditionals

    If I were king, I would live in a castle.

    (N.B. In contrast to (1), not replaceable by means of any indicative form.)


    (3) As a form of the SUBJUNCTIVE mood, expressing hypothetical/counterfactual states of willingness, e.g.

    I'd be able to buy it if only my father would lend me the money.

    (= subj. were happy/willing to...)



    On account of this complexity, many - perhaps unsurprisingly - are content simply to label it the "would-form"!
    Last edited by philo2009; 11-Dec-2010 at 08:18.

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