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Please look at the following two sentences.

  1. He was supposed to be home by now.

I understand this means we are talking about now.

  1. He was supposed to have been home by now.

Does this mean he is home now? Or does it mean he came, stayed and left before now? I don't understand when I use this sentence and what difference there is between #1 and #2.

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    There is no reason to use the perfect if it is not required by the context, and in this case the sense is the same in both sentences: He was expected to be home before the present time. Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 9:02

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The present perfect would emphasize that the point-of-timeliness was in the past

For example, you could go to the tailor's shop on Friday to pick up your new suit. It's not ready. You could then complain to the shop that it was supposed to be ready by now. It was supposed to have been ready by Wednesday.

or that the referenced point-in-time was in the past:

The winner of the November election ten years ago was supposed to have been inaugurated the coming January but was indicted for tax fraud and went to prison instead.

Many native speakers would choose the simple tense:

... was supposed to be ready by Wednesday
... was supposed to be inaugurated

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  • How then is #2 to be interpreted, TRomano sir? Does it mean he is home now? Or does it mean he came, stayed and left before now? Thanks.
    – Policewala
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 11:42
  • I would not use "to have been home" with "by now". I would say "He was supposed to be home by now." As I explained in my answer, we use the perfect when the point-of-timeliness is in the past, but "by now" refers to the present. If it is 1AM and he was expected home by midnight, one could say "He was supposed to have been home by midnight".
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 12:57
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    What would I make of the statement "He was supposed to have been home by now"? I would suppose the speaker to be saying that he was long overdue, even though "by now" makes the point-of-timeliness the present. In other words, it is not expected that he would be arriving home now, but that he would have already arrived home by now. The arrival home was expected to occur quite before now.
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 13:05

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