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If I had lost my passport next month, it would (will? shall have been?) be easier, I'd only need an old passport. -- Grammatical aside: HAD done something in the future? English is a fucked language!

A similar issue to the one I struggled to comes to gramatical terms with last week, that of using Past Tense to indicate something in the future, is discussed in Language Log - a grammar blog that come through as a recommended link in Google Reader.

They show a great ad from Irn Bru the scottish soft-drink that uses a Present Tense futurate.



Bored. Have 35 days (7 weeks) holiday owing to me that expire this year. One of my Boston trips has been cancelled so August and September are free. (Note the futurate construction: "are" + dates in the future )...

Vacation suggestions? Back to the Nile for the tombs at Luxor? Greek Islands? Both? Turkey (so 2004)? South America?


It is the first born's 31st birthday tomorrow. (Again, futurate construction - "is" + "tommorrow".) No card sent, no presents decided. Damn. Money?



Posted by: expat@large on Jun 13, 08 | 1:42 pm | Profile


Tense changes...my biggest excuse for not writing...I just can't get past the paradox of writing about the past in the present for the future which all becomes past anyway as soon as you've written it. It all seems so dishonest somehow.

Posted by: Dick on Jun 13, 08 | 11:05 pm

what's next, sugar? parsing of your sentence structure in parenthetical asides?

7 weeks vacation time, how lucky are you? as for a suggestion, argentina seems to be the spot for a lovely holiday.

re the birthday gift - send money, it's always appreciated.

Posted by: savannah on Jun 13, 08 | 11:40 pm

"Well I can't say I have been using grammatical philosophizing as an excuse in the past, but perhaps the day will have come and passed, in the future, when we would have been looking back on saying all this and, having said that, saying that not all that should have been said was said, but that what will be said has been said was said as well as we can say it - of course we shall have been the ones to be saying that we should have said what we said better!" he said.

You're right. I quit.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 13, 08 | 11:41 pm

Sav: It would never have be been said so in the past -- oh stop it E@L!...

Yeah, money and a phone call. It's all I got. Maybe a PS3? Likes his toys.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 13, 08 | 11:44 pm

I agree with savannah. learn to tango in argentina good for the knees and feet.

Posted by: steviefboy on Jun 14, 08 | 12:26 am

here you go! all will be revealed in the economist

Posted by: savannah on Jun 14, 08 | 12:44 am

I have the 'Style Guide' and still fuck up the grammar. It's sheer laziness on my part.

Posted by: dagg on Jun 15, 08 | 6:06 am

I used to love the older English style guides, The ABC of English by Parsons, Fowler's Modern English Usage, etc... where they tried to teach public servants how to reply to letters of complaint and such. Some terrific lessons in there. The modern style guides are dull as dishwater in comparison.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 15, 08 | 10:20 am

At least the Strunk style guide is a small book. Fowler's is a reminder of how good English can be written. Personally I find the economist style a bit dull and it can extract the life out of some interesting topics.

When in doubt read P G Wodehouse for 1/2 an hour. That's how english should be wriiten - or Raymond Chandler.

Posted by: steviefboy on Jun 15, 08 | 4:13 pm

I raise my port glass to the salubrious man who finds Wodehouse as peerless as I do. Find the perfect frame that matches your type of character driven anecdotes, write them simply yet with such style, wit and humour... repeat ad infinitum... Make a fortune.

I know it's fashionable to poo-poo Chandler and go for Hammett, but hey, I REALLY like his stories too.

We never were really taught English grammar in school in the 1970's, we had to drag the concepts back across from Latin or French.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 15, 08 | 4:39 pm

Agree about Hammett as well. They were bigger influences on other writers than has been acknowledged.

Posted by: steviefboy on Jun 15, 08 | 7:43 pm

Currently reading some pulp from Cornell Woolrich - real noir!

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 16, 08 | 12:22 am

Reading Bobby Fischer on Chess. Not a great work of literature but a great American character.

Posted by: steviefboy on Jun 16, 08 | 12:39 am

The book about Fischer and the Iceland championship? - that's interesting for the first half, then it drags (it's about chess for x'sake...). Or a book BY Fischer? Not the world's greatest prose stylist I would imagine.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 16, 08 | 1:19 am


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