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By the Time

Indicating a future completion time

Sun setting
 

 

By the time vs. When

BY THE TIME

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the ongoing or completed state of a second activity. ("maybe before but no later than the time").

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

The sun will be setting by the time I get home. 
(Setting occurs maybe before but not later than my arrival.)

ongoing action
FUTURE PERFECT

They will have eaten dinner by the time I arrive.
(Eating is completed maybe before but not later than my arrival.)
completed action

WHEN

When indicates the relative time (the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing a second activity as ongoing or completed ("at the time").   Both when and by the time are complemented by a clause.

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

The sun will be setting when I get home.
(Setting occurs at the time of my arrival.)
at the time - ongoing

FUTURE PERFECT

They had already eaten dinner when I arrived.
(Eating is completed at the time of my arrival.)                          
at the time complete

 

Also see At vs. By and  When / While

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relative Timing

Future

a woman thinking
 

 

Future — ongoing vs. completed

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the progress of a second activity. (future prediction)

The sun will be setting by the time I leave work.
(The sun will be starting or  be in the process of setting.)

They will be eating dinner by the time I arrive.
(They will be just starting or be in the process of eating.)

*They will be eating dinner by the time I will arrive.
 

FUTURE PERFECT

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the completion of a second activity. (future prediction) 

The sun will have set by the time I leave work.
(The sun will be finished setting.)

They will have eaten dinner by the time I arrive.
(They will be finished eating.')
 

*They will have eaten dinner by the time I will arrive.

 

 

*will is not used in the by-the-time clause

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relative Timing

Present

 

 

Present —ongoing vs. completed

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the progress of a second activity.  (present–habit, routine, custom)

The sun is setting by the time we leave.

They are eating dinner by the time I arrive.  

PRESENT PERFECT

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the completion of a second activity.  (already)

The sun has already set by the time we leave.

They have eaten dinner by the time I arrive.

 

already – may imply a time earlier than expected, or just an earlier time

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relative Timing

Past

They had eaten
 

 

Past—ongoing vs. completed

PAST PROGRESSIVE

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the progress of a second activity.

The sun was setting by the time we left work.

They were eating dinner by the time I arrived.
 

PAST PERFECT

By the time indicates the relative time (before and up to the end-point) of one activity as the reference point for viewing the completion of a second activity.

The sun had set by the time we left work.

They had eaten dinner by the time I arrived.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Perfect – Passive Voice

Focusing on projects 

media
 

 

Future Perfect vs. Passive Future Perfect

FUTURE PERFECT

The future perfect indicates a future time at which an agent will complete an activity. An agent is someone or something that causes an action to occur. 

We will be digitizing classic films this year and next year.

By this time next year, we will have digitized all the classic films.

We will be restoring classic animation.

By this time next year, we will have restored all the animated films.

We will be rescuing the complete film archive.

We will have rescued the complete film archive.

PASSIVE FUTURE PERFECT

The passive future perfect indicates a future time at which the completion of something will occur.   The focus is on the person, place or thing receiving the action. Mentioning the agent is optional.

By this time next year, all the classic films will have been digitized.

By this time next year, all the animated films will have been restored.

The complete film archive will have been rescued (by our restoration team).  

 

digitize (v.) –  to convert to a digital form for use on a computer

archive (n.) – a collection of historical records or film

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

*By the time I will arrive, they will be eating dinner.

You will have been giving the best education available by the time you graduate four years from now.

 

SOLUTION

By the time I arrive, they will be eating dinner.
Omit "will" in the by-the-time clause. 

 Future Statements - when, before, after, by the time

You will have been given the best education available by the time you graduate four years from now.
"will have been giving" is not a verb form.  See passive forms.

 

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

 

 

 

 

Traditional vs. Linguistic Description

TRADITIONALDESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, when and by the time are adverbs that introduce clauses of relative time. The clause "when I arrive" is called an adverbial clause. It is adverbial because it tells "when" the activity occurs.  (Azar 17-2)

In linguistic description of temporal location expressions, by the time  is a prepositional phrase (PP); that is, by (P) has as its complement— the time (NP); which has as an adjunct— a clause. (In current linguistic description, a preposition can be complemented by a wide variety of structures unlike tradtional grammar in which a preposition is complemented by an object.  See Prep ComplementsWhen denotes a point of time whereas by denotes an interval of time.    by:time "not later than" (Swan 117.1)  (Huddleston 8.6.3-4)    Also see When/While

PARSE DIAGRAM   Reed-Kellogg TREE DIAGRAM

parse by the time

tree – by the time

CATEGORIES:  NP –noun phrase; N – noun; VP – verb phrase; V – verb; Detdeterminer; PP – prepositional phrase; P – preposition; AdvP – adverb phrase; Adv – adverb; AdjP– adjective phrase; Adj – adjective
FUNCTIONS: Subject:  Subject,   Predicate: Predicator (V) Complements: (elements required by verb) Object, Indirect Object, Predicative Complement  Adjuncts: (optional modifiers) Adj, Adv

 

Resources 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Imagining Future Events

Flying books
 

 

 

Complete the sentence with "perfect" tenses.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 1-15" button.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

down-payment (n.) – an initial payment made at the time of purchase

6.

7.
 (ongoing)

8.

gain (v.) – get (something desired), especially as a result of one's efforts

9.

moving toward (v.p.) – working with a goal

10.

About stative verbs 

11.
(completed)

12.

13.

(retirement age is approximately 65)

14.

the fruits of my labor (expression) – the rewards of my labor

15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Still Waiting

 

Advanced level

 

Read for errors

California has been trying to build a high-speed rail (train) as a clean-energy alternative for travel within the state. As of November, it will be four years since the voters approved a proposition to build the project. The original estimate for building the high-speed rail was around 40 billion. By the time the train is actually built in 2030, the cost will have rose to five times that amount. The system will extend from San Francisco and Sacramento, via the Central Valley, to Los Angeles and San Diego via the Inland Empire. The state expects to complete a 130-mile initial construction segment from Merced to Bakersfield in the Central Valley by 2017. By then, it hopes to have been made a final selection for a route to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Hi-Speed Rail routeSome concerned people in towns such as Palo Alto have tried to block the train from passing through their neighborhoods. The High-Speed Rail Authority has come up with various solutions, raised and tunnel, so that communities will not be disturbed by the passing of the train. Many hope that these problems will have been solving so that the project can continue. Getting so many people to agree has been a difficult task. Many people joke, "By the time that train is finished, I will have passed away!"

 

 

 

Decide whether the sentence is correct or incorrect

  1. Select your response—correct or incorrect. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 16-20" button.

 

16.
California has been trying to build a high-speed rail (train) as a clean-energy alternative for travel within the state. As of November, it will be four years since the voters approved a proposition to build the project.

  

17.
The original estimate for building the high-speed rail was around 40 billion. By the time the train is actually built in 2030, the cost will have rose to five times that amount.

   

18.
The state expects to complete a 130-mile initial construction segment from Merced to Bakersfield in the Central Valley by 2017. By then, it hopes to have been made a final selection for a route to the San Francisco Bay Area.

   

19.
Some concerned people in towns such as Palo Alto have tried to block the train from passing through their neighborhoods. The High-Speed Rail Authority has come up with various solutions, raised and tunnel, so that communities will not be disturbed by the passing of the train. Many hope that these problems will have been solving so that the project can continue.

   

20.
Getting so many people to agree has been a difficult task. Many people joke, "By the time that train is finished, I will have passed away!"

   

 

passed away (expression) – died

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

The year 2100 – what will it be like?

 

Advanced level

 

Read for errors

What picture do you have of the future? Will life in the future be better, worse or the same as now? Will this hot, flat, and crowded world be "standing room only"?  People hope that by the year 2100, many of our current problems will have being solved.

Clean water will be one of the most valuable resources.  Demand for water will have been increased ten times.  In fact, there could be a serious shortage. Will water be more valuable than oil?  Will we have found a way to preserve our most precious resource by 2100?

Energy will come from a variety of sources: wind, air, solar, hydrogen fuel, and nuclear fusion.  Cars will have stopping using gasoline and will be using far more efficient means of getting around.  Public transit is expected to play a larger part in our daily lives.

The boundaries between entertainment and education will disappear. Edutainment will have took over as the preferred system of learning.  Parents stories of having carried backpacks with 60 pounds of books will be a  source of amusement for children.  Learning will be "on demand" and focused to specific needs in the world job market. 

Looking forward the 2100Air travel will be safer and faster.  Computers will operate aircraft with sensors, which will make them incapable of having collisions with other aircraft or phenomena of nature. Problems that grounded the Concordes (SST) will have being resolved by engineers, and passenger aircraft will travel at a speed of Mach 0.1.

Robots will continue to replace people in manufacturing; however, personal services will be in high demand.  However, by 2100, companies have replaced phone trees with human operators.  Local items such as food, clothing, and furniture with an "artisanal" touch will again be preferred over more polished, less expensive items produced by robots.

What experts cannot predict is whether we will be kinder, more caring people.  Will we have understood that violence and war only cause pain and despair? Will we be able to share earth's resources?  Will we have stopped looking at our differences and start seeing our common goals?

artisanal – a marketing buzz word for being hand made or produced
SST  – Super sonic transports
aircraft (n.) – general term for planes; singular or plural

 

 

 

Edit for errors.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" or "check 21-27" button.
21.
What picture do you have of the future? Will life in the future be better, worse or the same as now? Will this hot, flat, and crowded world be "standing room only"?  People hope that by the year 2100, many problems will have being solved.


22.
Clean water will be one of the most valuable resources.  Demand for water will have been increased ten times.  In fact, there could be a serious shortage. Will water be more valuable than oil?  Will we have found a way to preserve our most precious resource by 2100?


23.
Energy will come from a variety of sources: wind, air, solar, hydrogen fuel, and nuclear fusion.  Cars will have stopping using gasoline and will be using far more efficient means of getting around.  Public transit is expected to play a larger part in our daily lives.


24.
The boundaries between entertainment and education will disappear. "Edutainment" will have took over as the preferred system of learning.  Parents stories of having carried backpacks with 60 pounds of books will be a  source of amusement for children.  Learning will be "on demand" and focused to specific needs in the world job market.


25.
Air travel will be safer and faster.  Computers will operate aircraft with sensors, which will make them incapable of having collisions with other aircraft or phenomena of nature. Problems that grounded the Concordes (SST) will have being resolved by engineers, and passenger aircraft will travel at a speed of Mach 0.1.


26.
Robots will continue to replace people in manufacturing; however, personal services will be in high demand.  However, by 2100, companies have replaced phone trees with human operators.  Local items such as food, clothing, and furniture with an "artisanal" touch will again be preferred over more polished, less expensive items produced by robots.


27.
What experts cannot predict is whether we will be kinder, more caring people.  Will we have understood that violence and war only cause pain and despair? Will we be able to share earth's resources?  Will we have stopped looking at our differences and start seeing our common goals?