The Longman Dictionary has a sentence:

He spoke about that afternoon for days to come.

It struck me as odd, because it seems to me "for years/days to come" can only refer to time in the future. There's several other sentences on the same page:

Alice knew then that my father would haunt her for years to come.

The responsibility was going to haunt him for years to come.

These two sentences sound perfectly fine to me, because they both look into the future from a reference point in the past, whereas the first sentence "He spoke about that afternoon for days to come" is talking about an event that happened in the past. Is it grammatical and natural?

  • It's grammatical, but misleading. It sounds like he actually spoke for days, instead of speaking of something, many times over some number of days.
    – Andrew
    Apr 18 '18 at 2:28
  • 1
    This feels ungrammatical to me as well.
    – mamster
    Apr 18 '18 at 3:20
  • You might consider whether it is reported speech, from the POV of when he related the events of that afternoon. Say that day was 10 days ago, and he spoke of those events for the following three days.
    – user3169
    Apr 18 '18 at 5:38

The first sentence sounds as though it's written from a future perspective, recounting a story from the past as you suggest. It is grammatical but could be confusing as you could interpret the usage of spoke as "he continued to speak for days to come".

Replacing "spoke" with a more precise definition of HOW he spoke would help remove the ambiguity, for instance "He reminisced about that afternoon..." or "He recounted the story of that afternoon..", or even "He would speak of that afternoon..."

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