She will not have minded much when Kenneth Clarke, a Tory grandee who is a former home secretary as well as chancellor, was picked up on a microphone this week calling her a “bloody difficult woman”.

[Source: Economist.com]

I understand it basically means that she did not mind it. But why should "will not have minded" be used which as far as I know is future perfect?

  • Please make sure you quote the relevant source and its name when you ask a question next time. I edited your question.
    – user140086
    Jul 10, 2016 at 11:01

1 Answer 1


Like most modals, "will" has an epistemic meaning as well as its principal one: a meaning which as about the speaker's knowledge rather than about how the world is.

The epistemic meaning of "will" is something like "I conclude", so the given sentence means something like "We presume she didn't mind when... "

The OED, s.v. will, v., meaning 15 d.: " With the notion of futurity obscured or lost: = will prove or turn out to, will be found on inquiry to; may be supposed to, presumably does. "

  • Thank you very much Colin for your informative comment. I have a follow-up question though. If most modals have epistemic meaning, can other modal verbs be used in the same sentence or it would alter the meaning?
    – Nimitta
    Jul 10, 2016 at 10:46
  • Different modals have different epistemic meanings. Jul 10, 2016 at 11:06
  • Indeed, Peter. If you put "should" or "ought" into that sentence, they would be read as deontic not epistemic. But "could" would be epistemic there, with a similar meaning but a different nuance from "will": it would imply that her reaction was a bit unexpected.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 10, 2016 at 11:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.