I will wager he has heard I have dismissed the duke and the comte. He thinks he has me, and because he does, he has dared to ignore me. Oh, I just hate his arrogance!” She stamped her foot irritably.

(Quoted from the book "Intrigued" by Bertrice Small)

I will wager he has heard I have dismissed ” does not seem to be "standard" English in reference to the "will" usage and in correlation with the subsequent past forms of the verbs "to hear" and "to dismiss".

So, as far as I understand, I would have said that the grammatical phrases, or a best wording, could have been:

A. “I would wager he has heard I have dismissed ”

B. “I will wager he will have heard I have dismissed ”

Is this a not real question? Or, am I right in observing what I have observed? Can anybody explain?

1 Answer 1


Ms. Small is a prolific and competent writer; but her audience is not exacting, and she is not exactly one of our great prose stylists.

She writes mostly 'historical' novels, and her approach to dialogue is not to reproduce the actual style of the period but to employ 20th-century speech and render it more formally. In the case at hand she uses the ordinary contemporary idiom and formalizes it by elevating the vocabulary and expanding the contractions:

I'll bet he's heard I've fired ... > I'll wager he has heard I have dismissed ...

I'll bet is conventional, and in free variation with I bet. The contracted modal is not futurive but volitive: it expresses a willingness to bet.

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