Why does “your boyfriend will be mine” sound like “your current boyfriend will be mine”? Could it mean your ex-boyfriend will be mine?

1 Answer 1


Boyfriend, or girlfriend is a current status noun.


a person's regular male companion with whom they have a romantic or sexual relationship.

In this description current is explicit through the "have". The qualifier ex-, previous or old is required for to cover former relationships. More complicated circumstances might need descriptions like "on-again off-again" or the simpler "on off" if the relationship is regularly breaking up and being renewed.

  • 6
    Yes, but note that tense and context can vary the interpretation. "In 1999 my boyfriend was a guy called Gary, but we split up at the end of college." That seems clear, and the "ex" nature is implied.
    – James K
    Jan 21 at 12:16
  • 2
    @JamesK I would say the "was" and "called" in the sentence makes the ex nature fairly explicit. But you're right the correct context, especially a timeframe a significant period away can make the ex nature a more natural reading.
    – Jontia
    Jan 21 at 13:08
  • 5
    Boyfriends are not like presidents - they don't retain the title formally after they leave office.
    – kaya3
    Jan 21 at 23:14
  • 2
    @JamesK: I don't think that "ex" is implied in your example; note that the sentence becomes bizarre if you substitute "ex-boyfriend". Rather, what's happening in that example is that "boyfriend" relates to Gary's status at the time being described, rather than his status at the time of the utterance. (Sometimes you can get ambiguity -- consider "I met my husband in 1999", where "my husband" probably means that he's my husband now, though with enough context you could maybe get a reading along the lines of "we met up at home to discuss the situation".)
    – ruakh
    Jan 22 at 0:49
  • @ruakh i'm pretty sure that's what james was trying to get at, yes. specifically, the fact that the so-called "boyfriend" is currently an ex-boyfriend (re: (from the answer) The qualifier ex-, previous or old is required for to cover former relationships)
    – somebody
    Jan 22 at 4:40

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