When to use the present tense instead of the future tense?
In subordinate clauses we often use the present tense to refer to the future. This happens when the verb in the main clause is in the future tense.
Clauses introduced by the subordinating conjunctions are subordinate clauses. Common subordinating conjunctions are: as, since, because, when, while, until, till, if, whether, though, although, before, after etc.
Examples are given below.
- If I have time, I will visit you. (NOT If I will have time, I will visit you.)
- I will call you when dinner is ready. (NOT I will call you when dinner will be ready.)
- She will help if you ask. (NOT She will help if you will ask.)
- I will write when I have time. (NOT I will write when I will have time.)
- Will you stay here until we leave? (NOT Will you stay here until we will leave?)
- I will lend my camera to you on condition that you bring it back tomorrow. (NOT I will lend my camera to you on condition that you will bring it back tomorrow.)
Students often use the future tense in both clauses. This is a mistake that I always notice in essays.
When the verb in the main clause is not in the future tense, we will need a future verb for future reference in the subordinate clause.
- I’m sure she will recognize me. (NOT I am sure she recognizes me.)
- I don’t know where I will be tomorrow. (NOT I don’t know where I am tomorrow.)
- She is confident that she will win the first prize. (NOT She is confident that she wins the first prize.)
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