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In A Student's Introduction to English Grammar by Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum there is such a passage:

"The close association between will and modality may be illustrated with the following sets of contrasts:

[57] i a. She left Paris yesterday. b. She will have left Paris yesterday.

ii a. That is the plumber. b. That will be the plumber.


In [57], will is used in the [ b ] versions with situations located in past and present time, and the difference between them and the [a] versions is clearly one of modality, not time. The [a] versions are presented as statement of fact, the [ b ] ones as as inferences."

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I've got to admit that I'm confused with authors' interpretation. The questions I have are:

Why do the authors equally locate [ b ] versions in past and present time when modal "will" seems to put them into the future time?

Why is the time adjunct yesterday in grammatical agreement with She will have left in She will have left Paris yesterday?

Though I can 'digest' that interpretation of modality of will, I'm lost with those "past and present time" situations in the [ b ] versions. I see She will have left Paris yesterdayas a sort of "back to the future" time. Emotion: smile

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tkacka15The [a] versions are presented as statement of fact, the [ b ] ones as as inferences.

In other words 'will' can act like 'must'. In those cases 'will' doesn't signal future time.

Americans, for example, rarely use those [ b ] versions. We substitute 'must' for the same meaning — or what is surely close enough to the same meaning to suit us.

She must have left Paris yesterday.
That must be the plumber.

CJ

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"Will" is not restricted to future (or present) time. In example [57b], "will" can clearly be seen to have a modal meaning rather then one relating to time.

"Yesterday" simply makes it clear on which day she was expected to have left Paris.

Compare also these conditionals:

[1] If it rained last night [the match will have been cancelled].

[2] If Ed signed the petition [he was / will have been the only one of us who did].

In both cases, "will" refers to past time, but in [2] it can be replaced by the simple preterite "was".

If I'm uncertain whether Ed signed but know that no one else among us did, I'd use simple preterite "was": "will have been" conveys a lesser degree of confidence in the conclusion.


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Comments  

See my answer.

 BillJ's reply was promoted to an answer.
BillJ"Will" is not restricted to future (or present) time. In example [57b], "will" can clearly be seen to have a modal meaning rather then one relating to time."Yesterday" simply makes it clear on which day she was expected to have left Paris.

I see. Thank you for the clarification.

BillJSIEG is intended primarily for undergraduates. Are you a university student?

No. I'm a retired seaman interested in English grammar. I understand now that I've wrongly treated modal will as a marker of the future (here), and as such being in disagreement with the time adjunct yesterday.

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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.