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According to ENGLISHPAGE.com, if the Past Perfect action did occur at a specific time, the Simple Past can be used instead of the Past Perfect when "before" or "after" is used in the sentence. The words "before" and "after" actually tell you what happens first, so the Past Perfect is optional.

Specific time:

She HAD VISITED her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. (Correct)

She VISITED her Japanese relatives once in 1993 before she moved in with them in 1996. (Correct)

However, if the Past Perfect is not referring to an action at a specific time, Past Perfect is not optional.

Unspecific time: Here Past Perfect is referring to a lack of experience rather than an action at a specific time. For this reason, Simple Past cannot be used.

She never SAW a bear before she moved to Alaska. (Not Correct)

She HAD never SEEN a bear before she moved to Alaska. (Correct)

Reference: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html


My question is, is it the same way with Future Perfect and Future Simple tense?

Specific time:

By 11:00 am, I will + VERB(infinitive). (correct)

By 11:00 am, I will HAVE + VERB(Past participle). (correct)

Unspecific:

By this time tomorrow/By the time he arrives, I will + VERB(infinitive). (Incorrect)

By this time tomorrow/By the time he arrives, I will HAVE + VERB(Past participle). (Correct)

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The author of that page misunderstands the rule (which is not a matter of "specificity" but of Reference time) and overlooks the possibility of Reference time shifting in the course of a narrative. –  StoneyB Nov 11 '12 at 20:33
    
You are absolutely correct about the grammaticality of the four examples ending your post. –  Peter Shor Nov 12 '12 at 16:54
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1 Answer 1

By 11:00 am, I will FINISH my work. (correct)

That doesn't sound idiomatic to me. If the act is essentially punctual, if it occurs at a single point of time,

By 11:00 am, I will close the door.

then, yeah, maybe, but an act that necessarily occurs over time, and you intend to finish by some specified point, that's basically the definition of future perfect.

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@StoneyB You mean that both sentences are correct? I wonder if you would mind explaining what reference time is. –  Bright Polyglot Nov 11 '12 at 20:58
    
@ Malvolio My point is: Will + Verb(inf.) / Will + Have + Verb(P.P) –  Bright Polyglot Nov 11 '12 at 21:00
    
I have edited the question. –  Bright Polyglot Nov 11 '12 at 21:09
    
@BrightPolyglot -- I think both sentences are syntactically correct, but I don't think a native speaker would say, "By [some time], I will finish [some activity]." Instead, I would use future perfect. –  Malvolio Nov 11 '12 at 21:14
    
I think I agree with this judgment; but I would say "I will finish by ten o'clock", and other similar sentences where the time follows the verb. –  Colin Fine Nov 12 '12 at 0:40
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