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Reading an article today I stumbled upon this sentence:

A day before we first speak, Page will talk to his mom about this interview and she will tell him, “I’m just so proud of my son.”

I was wondering if anyone can clarify to me what is the form (or construct) corresponding to "will" usage in this case. My intuition is that it's used to describe a future action in the past or something like that. I would have probably used "would" instead of "will" to achieve that. I've tried googling such constructs but with no luck.

Thanks a lot!

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A day before we first speak, Page will talk to his mom about this interview and she will tell him, “I’m just so proud of my son.”

There is nothing wrong with that form and it requires no correction or improvement.

The action has been moved to the perspective of the future as seen from the past. It is akin to a prediction/prophecy, albeit one to which the prediction has already been realised.

The form is related to the historic present: "It is the year 1709 and the whole of Europe is involved in yet another war."

Thus

"It is the January of the year 1709 and, by April, the whole of Europe will be involved in yet another war."

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  • Thanks a lot for the answer, so I guess my intuition was correct (I wasn't implying anything was wrong with the form). I was mainly looking for how to call it, and I think your link to the historic present makes perfect sense. Thank you very much!
    – emanuele
    Apr 1 at 11:24
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The future in the past is constructed with "was/were going to" or "would", as you rightly felt (englishpage).

In the diagram below (from englishpage.com) the black cross represents the reference time (when we spoke), and the blue cross represents the future with respect to that cross. It is to be noted that the blue cross can be found on the right of the present mark; if it is, then the action has not yet been realized.

                                                                  enter image description here

A day after we first spoke, Page would talk to his mom about this interview and she would tell him, “I’m just so proud of my son.”

The pattern of your sentence is different because you say "before the talk"; it is as follows. (Nevertheless, you need the past tense for the verb "to speak".)

                                                                  enter image description here

The blue cross is not in the future with respect to the black cross. So, you must use the pluperfect tense.

A day before we first spoke, Page had talked to his mom about this interview and she had told him, “I’m just so proud of my son.”

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  • I am not sure I felt anything was wrong with the sentence, but rather that I'd have not put it that way (but I'm not native speaker). Checkout Greybeard answer, I think it makes a lot of sense.
    – emanuele
    Apr 1 at 11:25
  • @emanuele Yes, his answer wakens my memories; he is describing a form of the future when used with an historical present (which is in fact a form of past) and "will" sounds correct then. However, this is not the usual means to treat the future in the past; I think also that it is literary. There is still this question of the relative position of the time references and I dont think the adverb is correct: the action is not in the future with respect to the time of speaking, but behind, in its past. User Greybeard's last sentence shows that: there the time positions do correspond to a FIP.
    – LPH
    Apr 1 at 13:02

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