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.

Text of Future in the past

  • 1.The Future in the Past

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