And they will not have been in a bed or have had a shower in almost a week!

Does this sentence say that there will be a period of time in the future, and it will last a week, when they are not going to have a shower or be in a bed? Or it says about the past, and the verb will here is a modal of some kind expressing volition?

  • Modal will has multiple meanings. The most typical sense is futurive, so we might assume that's the right answer, but there's no way to tell without context.
    – user230
    Sep 9, 2014 at 18:55

2 Answers 2


No, it doesn't mean that. It means that at some future time the description will apply. Nothing complex.

That future time might be in two days, and they might not have slept or showered for three or four days already. Or it might not be until years from now - for a long time yet, they'll just carry on as normal.

Note that in practice, native speakers would almost always say "And they won't have been..."

  • So none of the meanings of "will" makes the statement past?
    – mosceo
    Jun 28, 2013 at 1:43
  • Realistically, no. Ordinarily I'd say there's no way to use "will" in respect of anything in the past. The only exception would be if, say, "they" are about to arrive at your home, and you already know/suspect that they haven't slept properly for a week. You could say to someone else "They will be tired" when what you really mean is "We will discover that they are tired". In such contexts, you might use future tense to refer to something which has already happened, but which isn't yet visible and known to everyone. Jun 28, 2013 at 13:43
  • 2
    The point is that whether or not the event happened in the past is irrelevant. As FumbleFingers says, the meaning is "we will discover at a point in the future that at that point in time an event is a past event." Your statement is equivalent to "[at some future point in time] We will find that they have neither been in a bed nor had a shower for a week." To simplify further: "He will have locked the car" is a more concise way of saying "We will find that he has locked the car."
    – BobRodes
    Jun 29, 2013 at 15:39

I will come forward and dare to say that "Will + Present Perfect constructions" can convey actions in the past. It's not my personal opinion. Look at these examples found on the Internet.

1) CRC is able to help homeowners when CRC owns their mortgage. If CRC is the owner of your mortgage, you will have received a notification from us, informing you of this and introducing you to our team. If you didn’t see this notice, please check and see if Wingspan Portfolio Advisors is the servicer of your mortgage.

2) If you follow my facebook or twitter you will have known that i recently had an exhibition.

3) If you've played Alien Wars and Contra Force than you will have known that sometimes there are view changes in these games.

The reason why your original sentence doesn't sound like talking about the past is because of "in almost a week", I suppose.

However, will++ Present Perfect constructions means something like "You are very likely to have done something".

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