I really do not get how "will" and past infinitive is used here. This comes from an example in a textbook, explaining usage of will in assumptions:

Some of you will have met me before.

I wonder, why not just:

Some of you (have) met me before.

And what about future perfect?

Some of you will have met me (by tomorrow).

That is something entirely different (the original one pointed to the past with the "before" word).

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    It might be helpful if you provide a source, a larger excerpt, or explain where this example came from. For example, is it your own example, did it come from a grammar textbook, etc.
    – Em.
    Aug 16, 2016 at 6:38
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    Time to invoke FumbleFingers's Perfect Truism! Aug 16, 2016 at 6:53
  • My mind automatically substituted "will" for "may". Probably because in German one could also say "{Manche von Euch} {werden} {mich schon kennen}" ("{some of you} {will} {already know me}") Aug 16, 2016 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


Some explanations in this answer are going to be unorthodox, but all of them are in good faith. They are there to help you shatter your current understanding that gets in your way. (Also, keep in mind that I'm not trying to be technically precise here, but I'm more on the practical side of it.)

Let's lay the groundwork.

First, will is not the future tense. Your example sentence, Some of you will have met me before, is a good example showing why we should break away from the concept of three time zones (past, present, and future) and move toward the two-tense system (past and non-past), and why we should treat will as a modal verb, like all its friends (can, may, should, and so on). If you don't think of "future" every time you see will, it'll be easier for you to understand your example.

Second, your usage directly reflects your thoughts, your views, not situations. A typical grammar book will explain to you, we use this or that tense for a) ..., b) ..., c) ..., and by doing so, it gives the reader (a learner) the impression that in the case of a) or b) or c), we have to use that tense. Not so! This is a typical problem. The book is technically not wrong, it's true that in the case of a) or b) or c), we can use that tense. We (or most of us, the learners, anyway) arrive at the "have to" conclusion by ourselves. Most of us understand grammar backward: in this type of event, we have to use this tense, aspect, etc. Or if we find this tense, aspect, etc., in a sentence, the event must be of this type. How can we fix this? One possible way is to think of these grammar topics as "features" of a language, and they're used to give you, the listener or the reader, some clues, what and how the speaker thinks of the event. It's not necessarily identical to the actual event, but that's how the speaker thinks of it.

Third, let's consider will a little bit more. Let's consider it as a modal verb, not the "future" tense. The modal verb will can be used (according to Geoffrey N. Leech) to convey prediction (or predictability), willingness, insistence, and intention. Here are some prototypical examples:

By now they will be eating dinner. (prediction)
Will you please open the door for me? (willingness)
I will go to the dance! You can't stop me! (insistence)
I'll write tomorrow. (intention)

I think we're ready now.
Let's get back to your sentence: Some of you will have met me before.

You wonder why it wasn't Some of you (have) met me before. This suggests that you understand the simple past and the present perfect well. Indeed, both of them are grammatical, though Some of you have met me before is a better choice because it's more logical to think that the speaker is recalling indefinite experiences, hence the experiential perfect. Let's stick with Some of you have met me before because it's closer to the original, Some of you will have met me before.

If we consider will as a modal verb with four main uses (prediction, willingness, insistence, and intention), it's clear that in your example sentence, the only sensible use of this will is prediction. Paraphrasing the sentence in contrast with may have been should make this point clear:

Some of you may have met me before. (= It's possible that some of you have met me before.)
Some of you will have met me before. (= It's predictable that some of you have met me before.)

(Note that these paraphrases are only meant as understanding aids, not formal interpretations.)

I think you should be able to answer the remaining question now. Is it possible to use Some of you will have met me by tomorrow? In case you're not sure, it's Yes! :-)

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    ++, but I'm not sure I like Leech's "prediction" for this modality; it's more like "confidence" or "assured inference". Aug 17, 2016 at 0:53

Some of you will have met me before. [spoken in a speech to an audience]

It will be the case that some of you have met me before. This is a curious usage of the future perfect but it is well established in standard English. For another example consider "You will have realized by now that ..." which means "It will be the case that you have realized by now that ...".

Some of you have met me before.

This is the ordinary present perfect, expressing the state of "having met me before".

Some of you met me before.

This is the ordinary simple past, expressing the bare event in the past. It is not often used with "met before".

Some of you will have met me (by tomorrow).

This is the ordinary future perfect, expressing that in the future (but by tomorrow) some of you will enter the state of "having met me".

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    My answer should be viewed in the "descriptive" tradition, since most modern speakers no longer have a conscious understanding of the subjunctive mood or modality. However, note that it is compatible with Damkerng's answer.
    – user21820
    Aug 16, 2016 at 8:10
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    The complication being that because English doesn't have a direct future tense, we just make speculations about the future-past "you will have read this book by December" that are grammatically the same thing as making a speculation about the present-past "you will have read this book by now". You can even do it entirely in the past, although "you will have read this book before last week" sounds like somebody stating what should have happened, expecting to be contradicted because the students didn't do their homework. Aug 16, 2016 at 13:10
  • @SteveJessop: Though it historically didn't have a future tense, it does now in the minds of most native speakers. I'd argue that the historical meaning of "will" is quite irrelevant for learning modern English. Same with the incredible number of different established usages of "shall", "should", "would", "may", "might", almost none of which are systematic but just learnt by lots of experience. Eventually I guess speakers will make it more systematic, the same way some languages moved from having verb declension to particles, and then the language will become simpler still.
    – user21820
    Aug 16, 2016 at 13:41
  • Sure, I mean that structurally it doesn't have a future tense. I don't mean you can't talk about the future. I certainly wouldn't say that you historically couldn't when it didn't, but now you can because it does! The point is just that the curious usage is an alternative use of the modal verb "will", so a non-English speaker needn't think of it as a usage of the future perfect at all. Aug 16, 2016 at 14:22
  • @SteveJessop: Yes indeed, and I'm in fact curious to know what the average native speaker will classify "will have realized by now" as. I should try asking around. =)
    – user21820
    Aug 16, 2016 at 14:24

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