By the Time

View relative progress or completion

Sun setting
 

 

By the time vs. When (future)

BY THE TIME

By the time relates a future time that is the "window" for viewing the progress or completion of the activity in the main clause. The window is the time-frame for comparing whether the other activity is ongoing or completed. The activity in the by the time clause has duration and an end-point: "possibly before and up to X time".

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

The sun will be setting by the time I get home. 

ongoing action

FUTURE PERFECT

The sun will have set by the time I get home.

completed action

WHEN

When relates a future point in time for viewing the progress or completion of the activity in the main clause. The point of time is the time for comparing whether the other activity is ongoing or completed. The activity in the when clause does not have duration (is relatively short) or its duration is of little importance, "at X time".                  

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

The sun will be setting when I get home.

at the time - ongoing

FUTURE PERFECT

~The sun will have set when I get home.                

at the time complete

  

~ Awkward sounding; by the time is more commonly used

By the time expresses that the end-point of one activity (with duration) is the point-of-time for viewing the timing of another activity, “not later than the time” [possibly before and up to X point of time].

When expresses that the timing of one activity is the point-of-time for viewing the timing of another activity, "at the time" [X point of time]

 

 

 

 

By — Complements

BY + NOUN PHRASE

By is followed by a noun or noun phrase with a specific point in time such as now, then or a calendar date.

SPECIFIC TIME

by tomorrow 

by this time next year

by the end of the day

by 2020

by then / now

by noon / midnight

BY THE TIME + CLAUSE

By the time is followed by a clause with a relative time that specifies an end or completion time.

RELATIVE COMPLETION TIME

by the time (that) you wake up

by the time (that) you are / were awake.

by the time (that) you were fully awake

~by the time (that) you are waking up

*by waking up time (no gerunds)

*by the time you will wake up (no future modals)

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.  ~ Questionable usage, possible.

Also see At / By and When / While

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tense Agreement

Future, Present and Past

a woman thinking
 

 

Tense Agreement — Progressive v. Perfect

PROGRESSIVE

A present or future progressive tense in the main clause is followed by a present tense verb form in the by-the-time clause. A past progressive tense is followed by past verb in the by-the-time clause.

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE

They will be eating dinner by the time we arrive.

*They will eat dinner by the time we arrive.
*They will be eating dinner by the time we will arrive.

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

They are usually eating dinner by the time we arrive.  

*They eat dinner by the time we arrive.
*They are usually eating dinner by the time we are arriving.

PAST PROGRESSIVE

They were eating dinner by the time we arrived.

*They ate dinner by the time we arrived.
*They were eating dinner by the time we arrive.

PERFECT

By the time is followed by a present tense verb form  when the main clause includes a present or future perfect verb. A past perfect clause, however, is paired with a past verb in the by-the-time clause.

FUTURE PERFECT

They will have eaten dinner by the time we arrive.

 

PRESENT PERFECT

They have always eaten dinner by the time we arrive. 

(So we eat before we go there.)

 

PAST PERFECT

They had eaten dinner by the time we arrived.

 

*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future Perfect – Passive Voice

Focusing on projects 

media
 

 

Future Perfect vs. Passive Future Perfect

FUTURE  ACTIVE

The future perfect expresses a future time as a "window" for viewing the progress or completion of a second activity. The “active voice” focuses on the agent or doer of the activity.

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE — WILL BE -ING

We will be digitizing the classic film collection this year and next year.

(standing in the present and looking forward)

FUTURE PERFECT — WILL HAVE  VERB+ED

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

(standing in the future and looking at the other activity)

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

We will be rescuing the complete film archive.

By this time next year, we will have rescued the complete film archive.

FUTURE  ACTIVE

The passive future perfect also expresses a future time as a "window" for viewing a second activity.. "Passive voice" focuses on the activity. Mentioning the agent is optional.

FUTURE PROGRESSIVE PASSIVE — WILL BE BEING -ED

~The classic film collection will be being digitized this year and next.  ( or "will undergo digitization")

~sounds slightly awkward. 

FUTURE PERFECT PASSIVE — WILL HAVE BEEN -ED

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.

By this time next year, 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./ v. ) – a collection of historical records or film; to store records

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Clause

Punctuation

 

 

 

Initial vs. Mid Position

INITIAL CLAUSE

commaA comma separates the by-the-time clause from the main clause when it is placed initially (before).

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

By 2020, we will have restored all the animated films.

By the time you return, we will have rescued the complete film archive.

MID-POSITION CLAUSE

no commaNo comma is required when the by-the-time clause follows the main clause.

We will have digitized all the classic films by this time next year.

We will have restored all the animated films by 2020.

We will have rescued the complete film archive by the time you return.

 

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

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

Also see Using Commas general rules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

*By leaving time, we will have better traffic conditions

 

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.

By the time we leave, we will have better traffic conditions. (our departure is the end-point)

By leaving on time, we will have better traffic conditions.  (not being late)

 

*Yellow highlighting indicates example of incorrect usage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

 

 

 

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

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 traditional 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 a future progressive or perfect verb tense.

  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.

6.

7.
 (ongoing)

8.

gain (v.) – get (something desired), earned

9.

moving toward (verb phrase) – 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

High-Speed Rail — 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. By 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!"

alternative (n.) – another option

block (v.) – stop

disturb (v.) – bother, disrupt

estimate (n.) – calculation of cost

extend (v.) – reach

has come up with (v.p.) – has planned

pass away (v.p.) – die

proposition (n.) – a project requiring a vote of the people

segment (n.) – part of the rail line

solve (v.) – find an answer to a problem

task (n.) – small project or job within a larger one

various (adj.) – differing

 

 

 

 

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. By 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 Concorde (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?

aircraft (n.) – general term for planes; singular or plural

artisanal – a marketing buzz word for being hand made or produced

boundaries (n. pl.) – dividing lines, limitations

crowded (adj.) – filled with too many people or things

despair (n.) – misery, loss of hope

efficient (adj.) – functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort

focus (adj.) – limit to a smaller circle of attention

on demand (p.p.) – available, easy to get when someone wants it

play a part (v. phrase) – be included, be instrumental in a larger plan

public transit (n.) – transportation for everyone (not private)

resource (n.) – a supply of something or a support or aid that can easily be used when needed

sensor (n.) – a mechanical device that is sensitive to light, temperature, radiation level, or movement, and which transmits a signal to a measuring or control instrument

SST  – Super Sonic Transport (Air France Concorde)

valuable (adj.) – bringing a high price

 

 

 

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 Concorde (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?