Present Perfect or Future Perfect

-I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years. I am sure he ....... a lot.

This question is taken from an Egyptian textbook. The answer was ( will have grown). But, I have another opinion. I think it should be ( has grown). What is yours? 

Original Post


I like "has grown".  I think I like it better than I like "will have grown".  And I definitely like it better than I like Egyptian textbooks.

I also prefer "in five years" over "for five years", but I won't say that "for" is wrong.



I haven't seed Hanna in five years.


I haven't saw Hanna ...

No.  Doesn't work.  Has to be "seen".

ceedhanna posted:

But in this context , Does the sentence (I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years. I am sure he will have grown a lot.) make sense?

Yes, Ceedhanna, it does. Like you and DocV, I prefer "I am sure he has grown a lot" to "I am sure he will have grown a lot"; however, the latter formulation makes sense. I understand the reference to the future here in the same way that I understand the reference to the future in your other recent question regarding the future perfect. Please apply my response here to that other thread.

"Will" locates the time of observation in the future. You haven't seen your cousin IN five years. When you see him, you will see that he has grown a lot.  You will see that he has grown a lot. He will have grown a lot. In other words, the truth of the proposition that he has grown a lot will, you expect, become clear when you see your cousin again. Consider this passage from Renaat Declerck:


They will be across the border by now.

(when the door rings) That will be the milkman.

This car will have cost a good deal, I suppose.

These uses of will can be explained as cases in which the temporal focus is shifted from the present to the future. Instead of simply claiming that a situation is actualizing at t0, the speaker suggests that it will become apparent in the future that the situation was actualizing at his present t0. That is, the speaker takes a future time of orientation (rather than t0) as the time at which the truth of the statement is evaluated. Needless to say, the idea of a future evaluation time is essential to these uses of will. Sentences like those above are not interpreted as asserting a fact, but rather as expressing a belief which is expected to be confirmed in the future. That'll be the milkman implies something like 'as you will see when you open the door.'

-- Declerck, Renaat. The Grammar of the English Verb Phrase: Volume 1: The Grammar of the English Tense System: A Comprehensive Analysis, pp. 105-106 (here). Mouton de Gruyter: Berlin and New York, 2006.


This sentence makes sense:

I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years.

It is also grammatically correct, except for the fact that writing "5 years" instead of "five years" would never be considered acceptable in any formal context. 

There is the additional problem of ambiguity.  It could mean:

My cousin lives in Mexico, and I saw him in Italy yesterday and in China last week, but I haven't seen him in England for five years.

The following sentence also makes some sense in context, and is technically correct from a grammatical standpoint:

I am sure he will have grown a lot.

But where I live, people just don't talk that way.  In the United States, or at least in the areas in which I've lived, it is much more natural to say "has grown", or possibly "must have grown", rather than "will have grown", in order to convey the meaning that you are striving for.

I'm sure you recall another recent thread of yours that begged the question of the use of "will" to suggest a sort of subjunctive mood rather than an actual future active indicative.  I cited a scene from a movie where a doorbell rings and a man says "That will be Peter.".  If we literally interpret "will" as an indicator of the future tense (active indicative, natch), we must logically assume that the man speaking assumes that the person ringing the doorbell is not currently Peter, but by the time somebody answers the door, that person will, in fact, be Peter.  I pretty much see this as a freaky version of Schrödinger’s cat thing, as if the original weren’t freaky enough.

This sentence does not make sense, and contains several major grammatical errors:

But in this context , Does the sentence (I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years. I am sure he will have grown a lot.) make sense?

I don't mean to sound rude, but I am here to help you learn.  Would you care to offer your own suggestions on how this sentence might be improved?

Respectfully yours,


ceedhanna posted:

According to your response, I think it will be clearer if we complete the sentence like this " I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years. I am sure he will have grown a lot when I see him."

No, tempting though that addition may be for you, it doesn't work at all. It doesn't work for Declerck's milkman sentence, either: "That will be the milkman when you open the door." You can't make such an addition. You simply have to grasp the interpretation. You can either change the sentence to a cumbersome formulation like "I am confident that when I see my cousin in the future I shall verify the truth of my present belief that he has grown a lot since the last time I saw him, five years ago" or you can simply accept that that is what your sentence means all by itself.

David and Ceedhanna, as often happens, when I spend too much time formulating a response, other members may post responses that make us look like we're working at cross-purposes.  Here, I started writing my reply before David posted his.  I imagine I started writing mine before he started writing his, just because mine was so long and I took a few breaks while writing it, but in truth I have no idea.

I actually think that most of my response was in agreement with David's.  The only point that strikes me where we seem to be at odds is in regard to our answers to your question:

But in this context , Does the sentence (I haven't seen my cousin in England for 5 years. I am sure he will have grown a lot.) make sense?

David gave an answer from a mile-high view, and from that view, he was correct to say that, yes, it makes sense.  I was analyzing your question from a microscopic point of view, and saw things differently than he did, so I think I need to explain that.

I was nit-picking.  Strictly speaking, the space between the word "context" and the following comma needs to be removed.  Also, since this is actually a single continuous sentence, the "d" in "does" needs to be lower-case.  On top of that, the parenthetical referent of "the sentence" actually contains two distinct sentences.  The phrase "Does the sentence" needs to be rewritten as "do [lower-case] the sentences [plural]".

As always, I mean to be helpful.


Doc V posted:

I'm sure my cousin will have grown a lot by the next time I see him.

What do you say, David?

I like that sentence very much, DocV. It would work very nicely if the speak had recently been with his cousin and was projecting into the future. He could even say it to his cousin. I'd reposition "by the next time" to the spot preceding the subject of the sentence:

  • I am sure that, by the next time I see you, you will have grown a lot.

In Ceedhanna's example, by contrast, the context seems to be one in which the speaker has not seen his cousin for a while, and is expecting that his cousin will have grown a lot by now. There is the sense for me that he is very close -- perhaps only moments away -- from seeing his cousin again, just as the speaker in one of Declerck's examples is only moments away from verifying that the milkman is at the door.

I of course agree with all of your criticisms regarding the sentence Ceedhanna used to express his question. When I said that the sentence made sense, I was not referring to the sentence in which he tried to articulate his question. I was referring to the sentence he was asking about, namely, the second sentence of the example contained between the parentheses of his question: "I am sure he will have grown a lot."

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