Future in the past

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An outline of the various tenses we use to express the future in the past. Also included a section for Italians on how to translate 'avrei fatto' etc.

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Future in the past

  1. 1. The Future in the Past
  2. 2. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  3. 3. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  4. 4. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it. events in the narrative time in past simple
  5. 5. now narrative events
  6. 6. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  7. 7. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it. various forms for the future in the past
  8. 8. now future in the past
  9. 9. to understand the future in the past in English, you need to start from the normal future (inside your narrative)
  10. 10. 1. Past Continuous
  11. 11. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  12. 12. consider the situation as if it were in the present
  13. 13. John is leaving on the night boat.
  14. 14. John is leaving on the night boat. present continuous for present plans
  15. 15. John is leaving on the night boat. future in the past ?
  16. 16. John was leaving on the night boat. past continuous for plans in the future in the past
  17. 17. John is leaving on the night boat. John was leaving on the night boat.
  18. 18. 2. ‘would do’
  19. 19. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  20. 20. He knows it will be cold.
  21. 21. He knows it will be cold. ‘will’ for neutral future
  22. 22. He knows it will be cold. future in the past ?
  23. 23. He knew it would be cold. ‘would’ for neutral future in the past
  24. 24. He knows it will be cold. He knew it would be cold.
  25. 25. NB the same mechanism is used in reported speech
  26. 26. I say tell sb. promise explain etc. (that) I will do sth. I said told sb. promised explained etc. (that) I would do sth.
  27. 27. 3. ‘about to’
  28. 28. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  29. 29. He is about to leave his room. ‘about to’ for immediate future
  30. 30. He is about to leave his room. future in the past ?
  31. 31. He was about to leave his room. ‘about to’ for immediate future in the past
  32. 32. He is about to leave his room. He was about to leave his room.
  33. 33. 4. ‘going to’
  34. 34. John packed his things. He was leaving on the night boat and he knew that it would be cold. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  35. 35. He is going to answer the phone.
  36. 36. He is going to answer the phone. ‘going to’ for intentional future
  37. 37. He is going to answer the phone. future in the past ?
  38. 38. He was going to answer the phone. ‘going to’ for intentional future in the past
  39. 39. He is going to answer the phone. He was going to answer the phone.
  40. 40. NB ‘about to’ and ‘going to’ (usually) refer to actions in the past THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN
  41. 41. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it.
  42. 42. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it. so he didn’t leave his room
  43. 43. He was about to leave his room when the phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it. and he didn’t answer it
  44. 44. in the present ‘intention’ and ‘immediate action’ are useful concepts
  45. 45. in the present ‘intention’ and ‘immediate action’ are useful concepts BEFORE the verb happens
  46. 46. in the past ‘intention’ and ‘immediate action’ are only interesting…
  47. 47. in the past ‘intention’ and ‘immediate action’ are only interesting… IF the verb doesn’t happen
  48. 48. consider:
  49. 49. John packed his things. He was about to leave the room. Then he left the room.
  50. 50. John packed his things. He was about to leave the room. Then he left the room. NOT interesting
  51. 51. John packed his things. He was about to leave the room. Then something happened to stop him. unfulfilled immediate action
  52. 52. The phone rang. He was going to answer it, and then he answered it.
  53. 53. The phone rang. He was going to answer it, and then he answered it. superfluous information
  54. 54. The phone rang. He was going to answer it, but then he thought better of it. unfulfilled intention
  55. 55. be careful translating ‘avrei fatto’ etc.
  56. 56. 1. unreal past
  57. 57. Se avessi saputo del concerto, avrei prenotato dei biglietti.
  58. 58. Se avessi saputo del concerto, avrei prenotato dei biglietti. If I had known about the concert, I would have booked tickets.
  59. 59. 2. future in the past
  60. 60. Avrebbe scoperto troppo tardi che lei lo amava per davvero.
  61. 61. Avrebbe scoperto troppo tardi che lei lo amava per davvero. He would find out too late that she really loved him.
  62. 62. Lui non avrebbe visto mai più Parigi.
  63. 63. Lui non avrebbe visto mai più Parigi. He wouldn’t see Paris ever again.
  64. 64. 3. reported and indirect speech
  65. 65. Lei ha detto che sarebbe andata con lui.
  66. 66. Lei ha detto che sarebbe andata con lui. She said she would go with him.
  67. 67. Lei pensava che avrebbe preso la barca.
  68. 68. Lei pensava che avrebbe preso la barca. She thought she would take the boat.
  69. 69. translate Se avessi saputo, ti avrei chiamato. You promised you wouldn’t tell. Ti ho detto che non avremmo vinto. What would you have done? Lei sapeva che lui sarebbe venuto. If he’d come, he would have seen her. Senza di te non l’avrebbero fatto. He said he’d be here. Non pensavo che saresti andato. We explained there’d be no need. Lui disse che l’avrebbe amata sempre.
  70. 70. translate Se avessi saputo, ti avrei chiamato. If I had known, I would have called you Hai promesso che non l’avresti detto. You promised you wouldn’t tell. Ti ho detto che non avremmo vinto. I told you (that) we wouldn’t win. Cosa avresti fatto tu? What would you have done? Lei sapeva che lui sarebbe venuto. She knew (that) he’d come. Se fosse venuto, l’avrebbe vista. If he’d come, he would have seen her. Senza di te non l’avrebbero fatto. Without you they wouldn’t have done it Lui ha detto che sarebbe stato qui. He said he’d be here. Non pensavo che saresti andato. I didn’t think (that) you’d go. Abbiamo spiegato che non ci sarebbe stato bisogno. We explained there’d be no need. Lui disse che l’avrebbe amata sempre. He said (that) he’d always love her.
  71. 71. why?
  72. 72. see what happens if you translate literally?
  73. 73. Sapevo che sarebbe stato bello.
  74. 74. Sapevo che sarebbe stato bello. I knew it would have been good.
  75. 75. Sapevo che sarebbe stato bello. I knew it would have been good. why is this WRONG?
  76. 76. Sapevo che sarebbe stato bello. I knew it would have been good. think what the present would be
  77. 77. Sapevo che sarebbe stato bello. I knew it would have been good. I know it will have been good.
  78. 78. So che sarà bello. ≠ I know it will have been good.
  79. 79. www.davidnicholson.it

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