8

Which sentence would be most appropriate?

  1. Next year Anny and I will have been married for 25 years.

  2. Next year Anny and I will be married for 25 years.

(this sentence came out of a grammar book. I had to fill in the gap "Next year Anny and I (to be) married for 25 years.)

10

1 sounds better

Generally if you say, "will have been," it means that state of being / activity has continued over the period of time mentioned. In this example, the marriage has lasted for 25 years, so you say you "will have been married."

If a particular event (say, a special anniversary vacation) is coming up next year, you'd say, "Next year, Anny and I will be going on vacation for our 25th anniversary."

  • 2
    A particular event which happens before the future point in time mentioned would use the future perfect: by the year 2150 I will have died. So, in this example, by New Year's Eve next year, we will have gone on vacation for our 25th anniversary. – BobRodes Dec 7 '15 at 5:12
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+100

English does not have a future tense, but some forms involving will, shall, and be going to are labelled as such. See discussion of future forms here. I'll use that terminology here.

Next year Anny and I will have been married for 25 years.

This is referred to as future perfect (see Englishpage.com, USE 2 Duration Before Something in the Future). It has the general form [will have + past participle] or [am/is/are + going to have + past participle].

The use here is to show that something will continue up until another action in the future. Future perfect can also be used to express the idea that something will occur before another action in the future, or show that something will happen before a specific time in the future.

This sentence describes that next year, you will complete a milestone of 25 years of marriage, which is logically what is implied by the exercise.

Next year Anny and I will be married for 25 years.

This is referred to as simple future (see Englishpage.com, USE 4 "Will" or "Be Going to" to Express a Prediction). It has the general form [will + verb] or [am/is/are + going to + verb].

The use here is to express a prediction about the future. Simple future can also be used to suggest that the speaker will do something voluntarily, express a promise, or express that something is a plan.

Simple future refers only to future events, it doesn't tie them to past or present activity.

If someone said this sentence, it would probably be interpreted to mean what is intended in the exercise, but only because that would be the only rational interpretation of its meaning. Technically, though, it would mean something different. It literally means that next year, you will get married and the marriage will then last 25 years.

This is an example of the role that context plays in English. Nobody can predict that a marriage will last 25 years, so the literal meaning wouldn't make sense. Also, English errors and variations are experienced all the time, and the manner in which something is said often conveys more than the actual words. So when a listener hears something, especially something that refers to common aspects of life experience described in commonly used words and phrases, they usually don't parse the words for precise meaning.

They hear the gist of what is said. The word combination might sound odd (dwilbank's answer mentions that 'will be' sounds a little funny to a native English speaker), but people just ignore that and interpret it in the way that makes sense given the context. However, despite the fact that the second sentence would likely be understood, it isn't correct (well more accurately, it is not grammatically correct for the intended meaning and if it is interpreted in a way that is grammatically correct, it doesn't make sense).

  • English has no future tense. – P. E. Dant Jun 12 '17 at 20:22
  • @P.E.Dant, there is a discussion of that here. My understanding is that while there isn't actually a future tense, future oriented phrases based on will/shall are labelled future simple, future progressive, future perfect, and future perfect progressive. I meant "future" here in a generic sense. What's the appropriate way to phrase that? – fixer1234 Jun 12 '17 at 20:38
  • Oh, there are hundreds of discussions! Some say, and quite convincingly (see Lawler) that English has no tenses at all! Still, we need ways to describe how English deals with time, and some grammarians talk about aspect, which seems to be a satisfying way of accurately describing things. – P. E. Dant Jun 12 '17 at 20:44
  • The change at least places the answer more in agreement with modern grammers regarding tense. – P. E. Dant Jun 12 '17 at 21:05
  • When people say that English has no future tense, or has no tenses at all, they're not speaking common English, they're speaking linguistics jargon. In the everyday English of nonspecialists, "I will go to the store tomorrow" is said to be in the future tense. That's what the phrase "future tense" means in English. Even if you want to talk technically, you can still reasonably say "English forms its future tense not by inflection but with a modal auxiliary construction, like 'will' or 'going to'." Not that I would recommend even that level of technicality for most questions on ELL. – Ben Kovitz Jun 20 '17 at 22:49
4

The perfect Will have been changes the perspective to a present located in the future, from which present a past is to be viewed reaching back into time. Will be, on the other hand, talks about the future from a time located in the present. This makes will be a jarring choice for your sentence because the adverb of time "next year" places the being married firmly in the future.

Instead, let's place the perspective firmly in the present, by removing every trace of the future aspect from the sentences, and see what that leaves us:

Anny and I have been married for 25 years.
Anny and I are married for 25 years.

It seems much easier now to understand why the first option is preferable. The second option forces us to describe a period that reaches into the past with a verb in the simple present, as if the present is 25 years long. It makes sense instead to use the perfect have been to describe the past from the perspective of a time in the present.

The same is true when we add the future aspect: will have been changes the perspective from today's present to a present situated in the future, from which, when next year arrives, we are going to look back over the preceding 25 years.

  • @ColleenV This is a first draft. I'll see about generalizing it away from the specific case, which should be simple. Or complicated. – P. E. Dant Jun 12 '17 at 22:43
3
  1. Next year Anny and I will have been married for 25 years.
  2. Next year Anny and I will be married for 25 years.

The way I see it, the second sentence is wrong if speaking about a state that is on-going for a period of time starting in the past. The second sentence gives up the impression that the action (their marriage) will last for 25 years starting next year.

Consider this:

The Future Perfect expresses the idea that something will occur before another action in the future. It can also show that something will happen before a specific time in the future. It consists of the auxiliary verb will (or shall) to mark the future, the auxiliary verb have to mark the perfect, and the past participle of the main verb.

Most commonly the future perfect is used with a time marker that indicates by when (i.e. prior to what point in time) the event is to occur.

Future Perfect diagram

Future Simple cannot be used in this sense. However, it can can express the idea of a general prediction about the future.

So, logically, the first sentence is appropriate and correct.

  • Next year, Anny and I will have been married for 25 years. - (Next year will make a total of 25 years since the time they got married; Next year will be the 25the year since they got married)

However, if we are just assuming that by the time next year starts Anny and I will, probably, still be married then the second sentence is also correct. Yet, this adds some disbelief and uncertainty about whether Anny and I are going to be married for 25 years next year.

Now let's look at some examples:

  • Next week, I will have been away for five days. - (Here we emphasise that next week the amount of time the speaker will be absent will make five days)
  • Next week, I will be away for five days. - (This means that the speaker will start the action next week and he will be away for five days days at some time starting next week)

Keep on examining:

  • Tomorrow, I will have been working as a doctor for a week. - (This means that tomorrow will make a whole week since the speaker started working as a doctor)
  • Tomorrow, I will be working as a doctor for a week. - (This means that the speaker will start working as a doctor tomorrow and it will take a week)

Even more:

  • In a couple of hours, I will have been absent for a long time. - (The speaker was absent before and in a couple of hours the time of his absence will make a long time period, we don't know long he was absent)
  • In a couple of hours, I will be absent for a long time. - (When a couple of hours pass the speaker will start to be absent for a long time, we don't know how long he will be absent)

In terms of Future Perfect Continuous vs Future Continuous the odds are the same as above:

  • This summer, we will have been working here for a month. (Suppose it's the 1st of May now and when 1st of June comes it will make a month since they have started working here.)
  • This summer, we will be working here for a month. (Suppose it's the 1st of May now and when 1st of June comes they will start working here for a month.)

Consider the difference with the Future Perfect and Future Simple as well:

  • This summer, we will have worked here for a month. (Suppose it's the 1st of May now and when 1st of June comes it will make a month since they have started working here.)
  • This summer, we will work here for a month. (Suppose it's the 1st of May now and when 1st of June comes they will start working here for a month. Likely a prediction or a plan, as with "are going to work here")
1

The previous answers are all very good and detailed. But people may still be confused about the use of perfect.

Here is a simple and possibly helpful notion:

Perfect is used to describe a state rather than an action.

Present perfect describes a state at present. That state is a result of actions in the past, but the emphasis is on the completion (perfectness) of these actions. Compare the following sentences:

  • I have finished my homework - I'm in that wonderful state now: my homework is finished and I can go play.
  • I finished my homework two hours ago - this is about what I did (in the past), not about my state now.

Past perfect has a similar meaning: a state of completeness that occurred in the past.

Future perfect is less common, but the same idea works here too. It describes a state of completeness that is predicted to occur at a future time:

  • By this time tomorrow I will have finished my homework.

Now, for perfect continuous, things are somewhat more complex. It describes the state of "something happening continuously". That something is not completed; the "it's happening" state is completed. This can be use in present, fast, and future perfect.

Consider the following sentences:

  • We are arguing about grammar. (Now)
  • We have argued about grammar. (We argued in the past, but it's over, we are not arguing now)
  • We have been arguing about grammar for ages. (We are in the state of "being in argument" now. This state seems to persist).
  • Tomorrow we will be arguing about grammar. (We will be performing an action, not in a state; and it is unrelated to any previous events).
  • Next week, we will have argued about grammar for over a year. (We will be at the state of having spent over a year arguing, and this state will persist; I do not predict that the argument will be over).
  • Next year, we will have argued about grammar ad nauseam. (I predict that it will be finished - perfect - at some point before that).

... Getting to your question: - Next year, we will have been married for 25 years. (We will be in the state of "being married 25 years" - and that state will persist) - Next year, we will be married for 25 years, and have a big party to celebrate that. (Non-perfect is used to describe a forecasted action. When discussing the party, it would be more natural to say "We will be married" than "We will have been married", which is the state. We are not discussing what will happen after the party).

Of course, these are very articulate sentences. Many people don't care about these fine differences and may use simple future for everything. This is arguably correct.

In my opinion, language is for expressing ideas and the most important thing is that the other person understands the idea. Using perfect can help expressing the idea sometimes, and distract or sound inappropriate at other times. You can sometimes choose your style. But in an English language exam, it seems appropriate to use future perfect in this case.

1

'Will have been married' is the most correct one. 'Will be' sounds a little funny to a native English speaker.

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