THE FUTURE PERFECT TENSE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE

THE FUTURE PERFECT TENSE

The Future Perfect Tense

Form

This tense is formed with shall/will + perfect infinitive (without to):

shall + have spoken = (We) shall have spoken.

will + have read = (You) will have read.

 

Functions

The future perfect tense is used to express:

I) an action that will be completed at a given time in the future:

  • By the end of this year, I shall have read ten novels.

 

II) an action which at a given time in the future must have ended before another action takes place:

  • I shall have finished my degree exams before your next visit.
  • You will have cleared the field before tilling the soil.
  • By the time the referee comes, Ibe will have run round the field three times.

 

 

The Future Perfect Continuous Tense

Form

This tense is formed with shall/will have been + present participle:

shall have been + eating: I shall have been eating.

will have been + dancing: She will have been dancing.

 

Function

The future perfect continuous tense describes an action, which, though considered already begun at a given future time, will still be in progress by then:

  • I shall have been eating my brunch by this time tomorrow.

 

 

 

Future-in-the-Past Tense: (also called Future Simple in the Past Tense)

Form

This tense is made up of should/would + the bare infinitive:

(I/We) should + write = I/We should write.

(He/You/They) would + sing = He/You/They would sing.

 

Functions

The future-in-the-past tense is used to describe:

I) an action that, at a point in past time, still lay in the future:

  • I told John that I should visit him the next day.
  • Eze said that he would employ her.

 

II) an action that was supposed/expected to take place at a future time in the past:

  • Osondu insisted that I should speak first.
  • Ngozi said that she would be given the trophy. (would be given: passive form of future-in-the-past)

 

III) an action that was intended to take place at some time in the past but probably did not occur:

  • I should have been redeployed to the headquarters (passive voice).
  • Ezinne thought that she would be invited to the party (passive voice).
  • My wife projected that our food stuff would have been exhausted before the next supply came. (But her projection was wrong eventually.)
  • We thought that Mr. Okonkwo would marry Ugomma. (But he didn’t marry her after all.)

 

IV) an action that was expected to occur at a certain future time in the past and it occurred as expected: 

  • We knew that Ihuoma would pay us a visit some day. (Not surprisingly, therefore, she visited us today.)
  • The doctor said that his “AIDS” patient would die (and the patient died soon after).
  • I told you that you would be promoted (and you were promoted) – passive voice.

 

V) improbable condition in if-clause where the action in the if-clause is not expected to happen:

  • If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
  • If I won the election, I should throw a party.

 

VI) a gentle advice in an if-clause:

  • If I were you, I would repent and save my soul.
  • If we were in your position, we would help the poor.

 

 

 

Future-in-the-Past Continuous Tense: (also known as future-continuous-in-the-past)

Form

The future-in-the-past continuous tense is composed of: should/would + be + present participle (… ing)

  • We/I should be singing.
  • You/He/She/It/They would be eating.

 

Function

This tense is generally used to express an action that, at a point in past time, was expected/supposed to be going on:

  • Mr. Ibe expected that his daughter would be reading when he arrived.

 

 

Future Perfect-in-the-Past Tense

Form

This tense is formed with:

Should/would + have + Past participle.

  • We/I should have spoken.
  • You/She/He/It/They would have gone.

 

Function

The future perfect-in-the-past tense is used to express an action which was expected to have occurred at an anticipated future time in the remote past if other events had not overtaken it: 

  • I should have come to your house if you had invited me.
  • You would have received an award if you had worked towards it.
  • If Obika had not called him back, he would have gone out.

 

 

Future Perfect-in-the-Past Continuous Tense

Form

This tense is made up of: should/would + have + been + present participle (… ing)

Examples

  • We/I should have been reading.
  • You/He/She/It/They would have been complaining.

 

Function

This tense is used to express an action which was supposed/expected to have been happening at a certain future time in the remote past if some other intervening action (s) had not occurred:

  • If he had not been made the President’s praise-singer, he would have been campaigning against corruption in the armed forces before the death of the President.

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