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Me and my boyfriend cannot decide if I am using the English language properly. My sentence is

"We would have been together for three years in August"

but he thinks the use of "would have" is wrong as it seems as we will no longer be together then. He thinks the sentence should be structured,

"We will be together for three years in August."

However I think that I am saying it such as "we would have been together for this long once we reach this date."

Am I right, or is he?

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Like any perfect couple, you're both partially right.

Assuming August is in the future, you could say:

We will have been together for three years in August.

The first sentence (We would have been together...) implies that your relationship was in the past (i.e. that you're no longer together), and it could also mean that August was in the past. Statements like this are called continuous conditional. You can learn more about continuous conditional expressions here. As the word "conditional" suggests, these phrases describe an outcome that is dependent on a condition, for instance:

If we had stayed together, we would have been together for three years in August.

This example would most often be used as a past unreal conditional + continuous, indicating that last August you would have been together for three years, if you had stayed together. It could also be future unreal conditional, meaning that by the time August comes, you would have been together for three years, if you had stayed together.

The second sentence (We will be together...) is not quite grammatically accurate yet. It implies that you will be together for three years, all in August. You can do a lot of things in August, like run a marathon:

We will run a marathon in August.

But you can't "be together for three years," all in August. For that reason, you add "have been" to describe that by the time August comes, you then will have been together for three years.

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    “We would have been together for 3 years in August” can mean “Had we still been together, we would have been celebrating our 3 year anniversary. But since we broke up last week we won’t be doing that.”. Your suggested sentence is right though. – Jim Apr 18 '17 at 1:33
  • @Jim good call, I edited my answer accordingly – RaceYouAnytime Apr 18 '17 at 1:36
  • In some kind of strange on-off (summer holiday?) relationship, you might be able to be together for three years all in August. Just kidding. ;-) Nice correct answer, of course, including the entry sentence. – skymningen Apr 18 '17 at 11:40
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    This must be the only way to say it, assuming you are still together in August! Otherwise, 'We would have been'... Do you know something he doesn't?! – Tim Apr 18 '17 at 12:03
  • The big difference here is the use of "We will have..." instead of "We would have...". Using will is more correct in your case @Melissa. – Rick Henderson Apr 18 '17 at 14:43

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