1. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Future perfect as seen from the past

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Hwaigon, Dec 13, 2015.

    Let's have this sentence:

    I'll have passed the exam by December.

    It's now January of the next year and I haven't even taken the exam yet. Is it then correct
    to look into the past and my plans for then future by saying:

    I thought I would have passed the exam by December of that year. I didn't even take it then.

    Or just: I thought I'd pass the exam by December of that year.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know the terms, but maybe:

    I'd thought I'd pass the exam by December of that year.

    or

    I'd planned to pass the exam by December of that year. or I'd expected to pass the exam...

    ?
     
  3. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I agree about both of your suggestions and they're grammatically correct. The question I was
    trying to answer/have answered, is whether it is grammatically - and logically - correct to focus on
    the future perfect (will have passed/read/done etc.) from the point of view of the past. Simply put,
    if such focus is needed in the first place, as yours and mine suggestions are acceptable.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've got the simple past for your first part, right? "I thought" - and that's what I'm stumbling over. I'd think that should be past perfect, because you no longer think that?

    I had thought...

    And then you could take the extra verb out of your second part... "I would have" could become "I would".

    Sorry, my formal grammar is terrible (like, knowing the terms) but I think I understand the logic of it.

    It's not the "passing the exams" you're trying to put in the past perfect, it's the "thought" you want in the past perfect, I think.

    I had thought I would pass the exam

    @Wreybies or someone will be along soon with the more official answer, but I'm happy to play until he arrives!
     
  5. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    :D Funny, I was actually thinking of tagging @Wreybies too.
    Don't worry about the terms, they're just terms.

    Let's have a very specific example pertaining to my experience. I'd like to pass the CPE exam sometime
    in the future. I find some aspects of it very difficult, meaning it'll take some time until I feel competent/prepared
    enough to dare sign for it.

    Now, let's say: I'll have passed the exam by the time I'm thirty. - This means that when I'm thirty, I will be able to say - just as
    about any experience I've gained in life - "I've passed the CPE. I've married a nice girl. I've had a beautiful life etc."

    Let's say I won't pass the exam for one reason or another. Let's skip to the time when I'm thirty, when
    I'm looking back into the past to the point when I was saying: I'll have passed the exam by the time I'm thirty.
    What I'm trying to say is this: Am I not supposed to use reported speech for this to render the sentence in the same fashion
    as:

    I'm pretty. -> She said she was pretty.
    I'll do it. -> He said he would do it.

    I'll have passed the exam by the time I'm thirty. -> I thought I would have passed the exam by the time I was thirty.
    In this instance, the "will" part transforms into "would" as in any dealing with "will" in the reported speech.
    As I've said, I think the reported speech future perfect is grammatically correct, but it makes more sense to say:

    I thought I'd pass the exam by the time I'm thirty.

    However, the present perfect aspect kind of disappears...
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think the "he said" structure is too useful, because you're adding in a whole new element.

    I'm pretty. She used to say she was pretty, but that was before the accident.
    I'll pass the exam before I'm thirty. He used to think he'd pass the exam before he was thirty, but then life got in the way.

    I think you need an element of the past perfect to show you no longer believe the original thought.

    I used to think I would pass the exam by December.

     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Because you are logically and temporally on the other side of the December goal, the focus is no longer as needed because that part of the logic imbued by the future perfect has already been satisfied. Both work perfectly well, though I thought I would have passed the exam by December sounds more like the diction of someone who is a stickler for grammar because it more clearly implies either a failed attempt, or, given the follow-up sentence, disappointment in not having done it since the focus of the perfect (in any tense) is the completion of task. I thought I'd pass the exam by December feels more casual, more workaday. This is how Joe Regular speaks, but it's also open to interpretation because the stress on completion of task is not there. The syntax could be interpreted as just a whim, something he contemplated doing, but, whatevz, shit got in the way.
     
  8. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Stickler for grammar feels like talking about myself. Thanx for your opinion, I agree in principle, just wanted to see other takes on the
    issue.
     
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  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It describes me as well. :whistle: English is unusual in that verb tense and mood are facets of the language that get rather muddied and indistinct in casual speech. This doesn't happen in other languages. In Spanish, you would never, ever hear someone make use of the kind of mixed tenses that you hear in English (had went, had ate, had wrote) and the subjunctive is always executed, without fail, even by those of very humble education. It's just not a part of the language that's prone to sloppiness like in English.
     
  10. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Have you studied English or are you self-taught?
    I always bring this up but I really regret not having met more such into-English people at the university.
    Would've been more fun than it was.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    English is my native, organic language. My study of English on a more academic level began with and went hand in hand with my study and training to become a Russian interpreter. In order to better understand many of the grammatical features of Russian - a language that makes use of cases to mark parts of speech and grammar - I had to sort of back-track and understand their counterparts in English. Also, I'm a little older and benefit from a period of American education when learning to outline sentences was still a thing that was taught. ;)
     
  12. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Sounds like a nice career. Do you interpret then?
    Though I don't regret being a teacher, sometimes I think I should have taken up English translation studies.
    Would have appealed more to my potential, I guess. At Teacher's Training College it was more strangled than cultivated, a fact
    that's left a burning mark somewhere within me.

    "I had to sort of back-track and understand their counterparts in English."

    Oh, I know what you mean!
    I've read Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago in English, the translation was masterful.

    "Also, I'm a little older and benefit from a period of American education when learning to outline sentences was still a thing that was taught."
    Right. Agree. I've purchased Building Sentence Structure that might originate from that time and it's a hugely rewarding read once
    you delve into it. Eye-opening, so to speak.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I do, but not in Russian/English anymore. Spanish/English is what I do now for the U.S. District Courts, District of Puerto Rico.
     
  14. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I'm also planning to translate for the courts here. The admission requirements are pretty tough though. You have to have some
    years of translating experience, right?
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In the U.S. it depends on the language. Because of the ubiquity of Spanish in the U.S., it is the one language that actually has a federal certification program one needs to pass in order to work at this level. Other languages would depend more on one's experience and a good C.V. The requirements are very rigorous at the federal level. I have no shame in saying that I had to take the exam three times. It was difficult. Spanish is not as uniform as English is. There are marked differences in different speaking regions that can be as fundamental as different pronouns and different verb conjugations, one country to the next. And these differences are found all across the Hispanophone world, not just between Old World and New World Spanish. The irony is that Spanish (more technically, Castellano) is a language with an academy that serves as "defender of the faith" in regards to correct usage where English has no such institution, yet English shows remarkably greater homogeny across the Anglophone world.
     
  16. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    "I have no shame in saying that I had to take the exam three times".
    Kudos for prevailing :agreed:.
    I'm based in the Czech Republic, so I might opt for Czech-English translations. The exams here are also rigorous, especially
    legal English ones.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I would imagine. So, anyway, much of my argumentation (in the legal sense) concerning grammatical and syntactical choices stems from the highly pedantic nature of legal translation work. Attorneys are an aggressive bunch by nature and have no trouble hounding and badgering you as to why you chose this word over that word, this structure over that structure in the translation of documents. You need to be able to argue exactly why the choices were made, because sometimes what the attorney wants is for the tone (if not the material content) to shift slightly in favor of whatever point they are trying to make with a given document, and if that wasn't present in the original, then it should not be present in the product. An inability to "make your case" in these circles quickly gets you marginalized in favor of interpreters and translators who can.

    Long story short, you need to know your shit or they'll eat you alive! ;)
     

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