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I read the following sentence in Flatland:

when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table, the penny will then have ceased to appear oval...

I don't understand why there is will have ceased instead of will cease. Why is it not:

when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table, the penny will cease to appear oval

Can you explain the grammar behind it please?

  • Can you explain what you think the sentence should read? – Catija Jun 4 '15 at 17:56
  • It's an extract from Flatland. The author is explaining how you'd see a penny in a bidimensional world. – Nicol Jun 4 '15 at 17:58
  • That's not what I asked... I made a request that you include in your question the text of how you think the sentence should read. – Catija Jun 4 '15 at 18:01
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    Sorry, but I did not understand the meaning of 'to read' in your sentence. Anyway, there was a typo in the questions...the sentence, I think, should be when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table, the penny will cease to appear oval. – Nicol Jun 4 '15 at 18:06
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It looks like it is paralleling the earlier phrase of "you have placed":

when you have placed your eye exactly on the edge of the table, the penny will then have ceased to appear oval...

If you wanted to use "will cease," a more elegant form of the sentence would use "place" instead of "have placed":

when you place your eye exactly on the edge of the table, the penny will then cease to appear oval...

In the first version, both use the future perfect tense, as opposed to the use of the present tense for a future event. Both options are fine, but you can't mix the two. The reason for using the future perfect is that of the author, and deals with the context of the sentence in the book.

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    Yep. You can do one or the other but you can't mix the two up. In this case, the future perfect is appropriate as the author is explaining what the reader should do to perceive "Flatland". – Catija Jun 4 '15 at 18:21
  • What about the following: A: When you will have placed your eye..., the penny will then have ceased to appear oval B: When you place your eye..., the penny will then have ceased to appear oval? – user6951 Jun 4 '15 at 20:36
  • @pazzo When you will have placed seems redundant. I'm not sure why the "will" would be inserted. B sounds okay, though it implies that the penny ceasing to appear oval happened before the eye was moved, as opposed to them happening at the same times, as the tense structure indicates in the question. – HDE 226868 Jun 4 '15 at 21:34

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