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When: followed by a future? …or not?
Students of English of all levels know the rule... but still have difficulties to use the structure correctly on a daily basis. Working on this particular issue logically seems to be necessary again and again, till the correct use becomes automatic: the "future" shouldn't be used in time clauses! The verb of the main clause is in the future, which shouldn't be repeated in the second one.
I) CONSTRUCTIONS :
The construction of the simple future:
subject + WILL + VERB BASE + time adverb (affirmative form – reduced form 'll )
It's very common and not really problematic.
- In the interrogative form, subject-verb inversion: "Auxiliary + subject + verb base?"
- Negative form: subject + Auxiliary+ NOT + verb base – reduced form in "won't".
- He'll come tomorrow, for sure!
- Will they pay for their tickets, or not?
- Your parents will not (won't) come back home before 6 o'clock!
II) The "choice" between SHALL and WILL:
* Remember that SHALL isn't "only" an old-fashioned form...
It's used by natives (and non beginners) to express NECESSITY.
On the contrary, WILL can be the expression of WILL-POWER. (I will survive! )
In the negative form, it expresses A REFUSAL!
- I won't obey that stupid order!
- I won't open the door for him in the middle of the night; he'll have to wait...
MORE IMPORTANT: SHALL is used to SUGGEST.
- Shall we go home, now?: What about going home now?
This said, there's only one little difficulty left...
III) The FUTURE isn't used WITH TIME ADVERBS:
* It's the only difficulty - but it's very unnatural for French students.
Beware of TIME CLAUSES!
* When the main clause is in the future, the TIME CLAUSE introduced by:
WHEN, AFTER, AS LONG AS, AS SOON AS, BEFORE, ONCE, WHILE, TILL/ UNTIL...)
is always in the present in English.
- I'll leave as soon as he arrives. (or: ) As soon as he arrives, I'll leave.
Easy, isn't it?
It must be added that if the main clause is in the conditional, the time clause will be in the preterite.
- We knew that he'd leave (he would leave) as soon as I arrived.
* They'll deal with that problem when they decide it's a priority...
* I won't make a decision until I have seen / I see her.
(Here, the present perfect - WHICH IS REALLY A PRESENT! - is better than the simple present.)
* I'll write a text to your friend once I have the date of the event.
Of course, this simple rule has 2 exceptions:
1) The first exception is very easy to recognise: the purpose: not to use 'when' et 'when'!
- WHEN is also an interrogative adverb: When will he come? (direct interrogative)
In the indirect style, the question becomes=> I wonder when my friend will arrive.
Here, the question is in the reported speech (indirect interrogative) introduced by 'I wonder' and WHEN MUST be followed by a future!
- 'Will you still love me when I'm 64?' (The Beatles)
2) If 'when' means 'and then' and after such expressions as 'the day when', 'the moment when', 'the time when' ... the future must be used.
- Most women hope for the day when they will actually be equal to men in every field.
(Just a "tip"... if you can't make a difference between the two words 'when': just replace 'when' by 'as soon as' (another time adverb) and see if the sentence makes sense...)
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