I was reading this question Future pluperfect and was really interested in how real is the Future Pluperfect tense.

I found this information:

The Future Pluperfect: Double Tenses in American English Auxiliaries

This is from "The Future Pluperfect: Double Tenses in American English Auxiliaries" by Carole E. Chaski. American Speech. Vol. 70, No. 1 (Spring, 1995), pp. 3-20

The interesting part is the sentence:

  • John will had run the race by the time we arrive.

Is this information true? can we indeed use the Future Pluperfect tense the way it's used here?

  • 4
    I think these are "grammatically incorrect" instances that are only found in certain dialects. To my ear it sounds wrong, like you don't understand how to use future perfect properly. I would steer clear.
    – SteveES
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 13:41
  • @SteveES I agree with you, however, I sometimes stumble upon the term "Future pluperfect" and it seems not to let go of me. Commented May 23, 2017 at 13:44
  • 3
    I've never heard anything like "John will had run the race"; slightly more normal to me is "John will have had run the race", but usually I would just say "John will have run the race". But I see that the author is talking about certain dialects, not standard English.
    – stangdon
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:00
  • 1
    "John will have had run the race" is (more or less) grammatical, but it is little different in meaning from "John will have run the race". So use the simpler form.
    – Andrew
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:14
  • 1
    Just out of curiosity: why don't you try to acquire firstly the standard English?:) Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


It's not standard English. The article says that it's from a North Carolina (U.S. Southern) dialect.

There are many, many regional variations on standard English grammar and vocabulary, often called "dialects". They're usually not accepted in formal writing for a broad audience. Schools usually teach children to avoid the nonstandard words and grammar, at least in a formal setting; more here.

The article is mainly concerned with how to explain "double auxiliaries" in terms of transformational grammar. Simplifying for brevity: This is a theory that all grammars of all human languages are instances of a single, mathematically pristine set of rules for generating all possible grammatical sentences. This "universal grammar" is postulated to have various "switches" that different languages turn on and off, accounting for the differences between different languages' grammars. If you're thinking that this is a dubious theory, you're not alone, but this is a matter on which people can reasonably disagree. Anyway, for the theory to be true, the postulated transformational grammar must be able to generate every possible grammatical sentence in all languages and all their dialectal variations, and be unable to generate any ungrammatical sentence in any language or dialect (given appropriate switch-settings). If the nonstandard grammar of the North Carolina dialect allows a sentence that the leading transformational grammar can't generate, this is evidence disproving the theory or else requiring that the transformational grammar be modified to include it. The article is mostly concerned with how to make this revision. From p. 12:

…given McCawley's framework, the difference between the standard dialect and the double perfective dialect can be captured as a difference in the ordering of the two cyclic rules, Tense-Replacement and Attraction-to-Tense. Since these rules are both cyclic, either can apply. In the standard dialect, Tense Replacement precedes Attraction-to-Tense; in the double perfective dialect, Attraction-to-Tense can precede Tense Replacement. This alternative ordering generates both the will had and will have had forms.

So, the information is true, but it does not mean that the future pluperfect is standard English.


Break it down this way. The pluperfect, or past perfect, denotes

"a tense of verbs used in relating past events where the action had already occurred at the time of the action of a main verb that is itself in a past tense. In English this is a compound tense formed with had plus the past participle." Collins English Dictionary http://www.dictionary.com/browse/past-perfect

Therefore the concept described in the question above, which denotes a situation relating an event which will occur earlier in the future than another future event is, by definition, not pluperfect.

On the other hand the concept is exactly what the future perfect tense exists to describe. Per Collins, the future perfect denotes

"a tense of verbs describing an action that will have been performed by a certain time. In English this is formed with will have or shall have plus the past participle."

Random House Dictionary adds the additional details that future perfect is

"perfect with respect to a temporal point of reference in time to come; completed with respect to a time in the future, especially when incomplete with respect to the present."

Therefore, "John will have run the race by the time we arrive." is both simple and correct. Attempting to mangle this construction into something approaching a hybrid of past perfect and future perfect like in the example in the question doesn't add any meaning to what is already available in the future perfect, so it creates an unnecessarily awkward construction using non-standard English that has no positive value but plenty of negative value as it can be confusing and can make the speaker sound like some backwoods inbred villain straight out of B-grade scary movie.

So to your basic question, is it real? Obviously some people can and do say it, so it's as real as slithy toves and cooties. But it adds no value. I mean you can go back to monochrome green screen Apple II computers with no hard drives and only a floppy (truly floppy) disk drive and play Zork all day while the rest of us are moving forward with our lives just as you can use this horribly mangled form if you choose. But I'm not and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else either.

  • You's dissin' on future pluperfect and Zork?? If you say I need to get an 80-column board, too, ahmo haffa downvote. ;)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented May 27, 2017 at 1:01

I have never heard the term 'will had' used in standard English, however 'will have had' is a standard construct, used to describe something that will have happened by some future time. The precise timing of the future event is typically subject to some uncertainty.

"John will have had time to run his errands by the time we get there."

"Mary will have had the opportunity to review your resume carefully before your interview next Tuesday."

"They're very busy, but the mechanics should have had a chance to look at your car by the time you get back from your trip."

Note that the 'had' in each phrase isn't necessary at all, in fact it makes a bit of a constructive mess. You will likely encounter it only in spoken English. So, why? Let's look at the last example.

In their mind, the speaker first translates 'have a chance' as a block of future time to be allocated to the subject project. So when they say "I will have a chance to look at your car...", they're thinking, say, 'two hours'. This verbal construct 'have a chance'(which they mentally use to represent 'two hours') then gets preserved as they start thinking of the owner returning and mentally switch to thinking of that block of time in the past tense "I had a chance to look at your car..." ('had a chance' = 'found two hours' - success!) and so by the time their mental thought processes end up expressing an opinion, in the past tense, on the probability of a future event, with a finished car repair and a happy owner, it becomes

"I will have had a chance to look at your car..."

which makes more sense if you realize the speaker is thinking:

"I will have found two hours to look at your car..."

and that's how we end up with a common use, particularly in spoken English, for the future pluperfect:

"I will have [had some time, exactly when unspecified] to do [something]".

  • 1
    As I understand it, this is blatantly incorrect. "I will have to do" does not equal "I will have had some time to do". This is either incorrect or something one would never encounter: "They're very busy, but the mechanics should have had a chance to look at your car by the time you get back from your trip." You are correct that "had" is not necessary here, but removing it from your first example makes it incorrect. Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 1:02
  • 1
    The question is not about will have had, where the main verb is to have, it's about will have had run, where the main verb is to run. The first is standard English. The second is non-standard English, but apparently used in some dialects. Commented Jun 4, 2020 at 1:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .