What is the grammatically correct way to say that a person who has died would be a certain age next month? He "would have been 89 next month?" Or "were he alive, he would be 89 next month ?"

  • 2
    I think both are correct. The former is more common in spoken English, the latter a bit more formal. – anongoodnurse Mar 2 '14 at 17:50

I'd go with "would have been". It seems to stress the fact that there's no way he's ever going to be 89. Were he alive, we'd say "he will have been". As a way to make it less probable, we'd backshift it to "would have been".

  • I can see no situation in which '*He will have been 89' could be correct. – Tim Lymington Mar 2 '14 at 20:37
  • "Tomorrow, he will have been 89"? – jules Mar 2 '14 at 20:58
  • Practically meaningless: either he still will be 89, (he will be 89) or he will not (he will be 90). Ingenuity could posibly construct a situation where the phrase could be used, but not in normal usage. – Tim Lymington Mar 2 '14 at 22:25
  • He will not be 90. He will be 89. Today, the person is 88 yrs and 364 days old. By tomorrow, he will have been 89. BTW, what was Kathryn's original question...? – jules Mar 3 '14 at 8:20
  • OK, last comment: If someone's 89th birthday is tomorrow, then he is 88 and will be 89. Should he die this afternoon, you could then say "How sad, he would have been 89 tomorrow." It would be theoretically possible to say now "Tomorrow he will no longer be 88, but he still will have been 88 at some point": but in any sensible context the tense is will be if he is alive and would have been if not. – Tim Lymington Mar 3 '14 at 13:02

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