I'm currently reading this article, and a paragraph says,

Johnson tweeted that the two sides had struck a “great new deal” and urged U.K. lawmakers to ratify it in a special session being held Saturday — only the first time since 1982 that British lawmakers have been at work on that day.

What would the bold line mean?

Would that mean, British lawmakers worked for the first time since 1982 overnight?

  • 2
    That day refers to parliamentary sitting on a Saturday Oct 17, 2019 at 20:10
  • @RonaldSole But that day, Saturday, is, as of today, in future. How come past perfect is used?
    – user17814
    Oct 17, 2019 at 20:12
  • 2
    The Saturdays since 1982, on all of which Parliament have not sat, are definitely in the past. Oct 17, 2019 at 20:56

2 Answers 2


The significant part of a perfect construction in English is that it is perfect.

Past perfect and future perfect constructions exist, but are often not used when the temporal relationships are clear without it.

the first time ... that British lawmakers will have been at work on that day.

would be fine; but unnecessary, and a little bit stilted.


What would the bold line mean?

"That day" refers to Saturday. The British lawmakers don't usually work on Saturdays, and the last time they did so was in 1982.

"have been" is present perfect. Why is that tense used?

From https://examples.yourdictionary.com/present-perfect-tense-examples.html

There are many different situations where the present perfect tense can be used. It can be used in the following ways:

To describe an action that is being repeated between the past and present.
Example: We have gone to the beach many times.

To describe an action that started in the past and is still continuing in the future.
Example: I have lived in the United States since 1990.

Even if "next Saturday" is in the future, all of the other Saturdays since 1982 are in the past. Saturday is, roughly speaking, in the present era when compared to 1982.

So, present perfect "have been" seems to fit.

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