Is this sentence correct? Could anyone explain why it is correct or not?

After you have done everything you could, you will always find that someone else did more.

I find it hard to understand this type of sentences. First we have a past tense and then there's the future tense. Could someone explain this to me, please?

1 Answer 1


This is perfectly normal colloquial English.

Your difficulty is that the so-called "future tense" is only one way of conveying future time in English. (I belong to the party of linguists who don't believe that English has a future tense, but we don't need to get into that). Clauses beginning with subordinating conjunctions such as "if", "when", "while", "after", "before" hardly ever have an explicit "will" in them - we use a present verb for future meaning:

After he finishes ...

If you need anything ...

Before they come ...

all may be future in meaning. (The second and third could also be present in meaning: it depends on the context).

Here, the construction used is the present perfect "you have done". In such a clause this has "future perfect" meaning - something like when (in the future) you are in the state of having done everything you could.

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