Talk:Future time

From Teflpedia

What about "shall"? Should is in there, which seems to be part of the same word.


  1. archaic a : will have to : must b : will be able to : can
  2. a —used to express a command or exhortation <you shall go> b —used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory <it shall be unlawful to carry firearms>
  3. a —used to express what is inevitable or seems likely to happen in the future <we shall have to be ready> <we shall see> b —used to express simple futurity <when shall we expect you>
  4. —used to express determination <they shall not pass>

From the reams of pronouncements written about the distinction between shall and will—dating back as far as the 17th century—it is clear that the rules laid down have never very accurately reflected actual usage. The nationalistic statements of 18th and 19th century British grammarians, who commonly cited the misuses of the Irish, the Scots, and occasionally the Americans, suggest that the traditional rules may have come closest to the usage of southern England. Some modern commentators believe that English usage is still the closest to the traditionally prescribed norms. Most modern commentators allow that will is more common in nearly all uses. Toast 17:55, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

I think we cover this under "will" where we say:
  • Although often claimed to be "the future" in English will is simply one of several modal verbs which may be used to refer to the the speaker's opinion of future. "Might", "may", "could", "should", "must" etc are also frequently used with a future sense. The reason that "will" tends to be singled out is because its modal meaning is more closely associated with "inevitability" than any of the other modes.
Almost all the modals can be used with some sort of future meaning. In my opinion they are tough things to teach because of (1.) overlapping meanings and (2.) multiple meanings.
How "shall" is associated with "should" is another tricky issue. Some teachers claim that "should" is "the past" of "shall", but I don't buy it. It comes from the idea that in reported speech, "I shall do it tomorrow" should be reported as, "He said that that he should do it the next day." While this may or may not be correct, - personally I would use"would" - it hardly makes "should" a "past tense".--Bob M 18:32, 25 October 2009 (UTC)
But I've explicitly added it to make it clear that we have no prejudice against it. --Bob M 18:41, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Random question[edit]

Is "may have" a future perfect, like "will have"? I don't think it is, as it implies being in the past, so what is it? /ˈɸæɳʈʊɱ ˈɦyːⱱe/ 19:36, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

I think it depends to an extent on your definitions. If you want to consider "will have" to be "future perfect" (as in "he will have finished by Wednesday") then, logically, "may", "might", "could", "should" and "ought to", (have finished by Wednesday) are also forms of the "future perfect". But the "future perfect tense" is really a simplistic way of looking at things. What you really need to consider are tense, mode and aspect. But this really takes us into a world of grammar which is usually not considered at TEFL level. Which, does, I must admit give us a little bit of a problem in deciding at what level to pitch our articles.--Bob M 20:44, 31 October 2009 (UTC)