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Natives & Tenses: Chapter 9. Future 2: Facts and The Nature of 'Will'

[All information copyrighted to EnglishAdam.com]

Part 9: Future 2: Facts, and The Nature of Will.


9:2:1: "FACTS" in the Future
This discussion is just to clarify what MIGHT be meant by FACTS when I use it to refer to the FUTURE.

So, what is a 'Fact'?

Simply put it is something true.

Click me!



Ok... so anything could be a 'fact' right?

Well... if it's true... yeah, I guess.

Click me!



So what is TRUE about the future NOW?

Possibly those are the things that we cannot change?

Click me!



Right, so things that feel PERMANENT, FIXED. So which ASPECT is going to be good here?

The SIMPLE aspect has these characteristics.

Click me!



And in fact we already know that for FUTURE PLANS that are of a FIXED nature, we use...?

The PRESENT SIMPLE.
The elections are next month.
The film starts in an hour.
The boat leaves in 2 minutes.

Click me!



When we use the PRESENT SIMPLE we are including what time?

The PAST and the PRESENT. As well as the FUTURE.

Click me!



So the PRESENT SIMPLE includes us NOW in some way. But... what if we wanted to express FUTURE events as INDEPENDENT of now. Because remember that FACTS are things we cannot...

...change.

Click me!



So what do we use if we want to express a FUTURE event that is Completely Independent of the Past?

We looked a little at this already... WILL.
WILL is used when the PAST is irrelevant.
We use WILL when we want to stress that there is little we can do, or wanted to do, or could do before the moment it happens.
It kind of sits in the now, "Oh I'll make a coffee now.!"
or it sits in the future, "If it rains, I'll go home."
(I am not going home before that future moment!)

Click me!



Look at these examples:
"Don't leave the ice out of the fridge. It _________ (to melt).

It WILL MELT.
This will just happen in the future, we can't really stop it.

Click me!



In 2045, Mary ________(to be) 35 years old.

Mary WILL BE 35 years old.
This will just happen in the future, we can't really stop it.

Click me!



The tornado _______ (to reach) Kansas at 6.50 a.m..

The tornado WILL REACH Kansas...
This will just happen in the future, we can't really stop it.

Click me!



So FUTURE FACTS are events in the future which we cannot change or we want to express as unchangeable.
We emphasize that they are happening and we need not act or cannot act to stop them.
Why would we restate these 3 examples with WILL?
The elections are next month.
The film starts in an hour.
The boat leaves in 2 minutes.

The elections WILL BE next month.
The film WILL START in an hour.
The boat WILL LEAVE in 2 minutes.
Perhaps by using WILL the speaker wants to stress how the FUTURE is coming and we are powerless about it!
It also shifts the attention from the PAST to the PRESENT and future. Hmmmm....

Click me!



So there is another POSSIBLE use here of WILL.

ANOTHER?

Click me!



We can take a FUTURE event, eg Rebecca is coming here in 5 minutes.
And make it fixed and unavoidable....eg...

Rebecca will come here in 5 minutes.
Now the emphasis is really on that moment in 5 minutes time.

Click me!



And this allows us to create drama in the PRESENT.
Rebecca will come here in 5 minutes time, UNLESS....

...unless we stop her.
Here the speaker's sentence is really about what can be done NOW or in the FUTURE to stop Rebecca.
It would have much less direct impact as so:
Rebecca is coming here in 5 minutes unless we stop her.
It is still fine and valid, just not as dramatic!

Click me!



AGAIN this shows us how the CHOICE of TENSES really does reflect...

...our PERCEPTION, our FEELINGS, our POINT OF VIEW of ACTIONS.
The tenses DO NOT describe when!

Click me!




9:2:2: The Nature of "WILL"
This use of WILL ties nicely into one of the more difficult areas of the MEANING of the TENSES, namely the Meaning of Will...
We can see that the nature of WILL is quite clear in New Plans.

From New Plans, in terms of Decisions/Actions we can see...

...we can see that the Decisions/Actions were confirmed in a particular moment.(Now)
And that the same Decision/Action was not 'probable' 'possible' 'considered' before The Moment of Choice/Decision. (Now)

Click me!


Consider again:
"Oh it's your birthday today! I didn't know! I'll buy you lunch later!"
Was the speaker going to buy her friend lunch 3 seconds before?

No.

Click me!



Or:
Your baby starts crying, "I'll go!"
Were you going to go 2 seconds before?

No.

Click me!



In these examples, we can see that a difference between WILL and Present Simple, Continuous or Going to, is that WILL has no...

...PAST.

Click me!



Let's have a look at another common use of WILL, the First Conditional.
[We will come back to this in much more depth later.]
For example:
If Robert asks, Jane will meet him for a coffee.
So, when can Jane meet Robert for a coffee?

Not before he asks her!
So WILL appears to describe an event that is independent, unconnected to BEFORE in some way.
So not before NOW for Future Plans.
Or not before Robert asks,
Or rather, not before the IF-clause in First Conditionals.

Click me!



And stepping back to Future Facts, how does WILL relate to them again?
For example:
January 1st will be on a Saturday next year.

It emphasizes how it is 'untouchable' before.
It WILL just happen.

Click me!



Just to recap a little bit more;
We have seen in all the TENSES that EVERY action has more than one possible tense to use with it!
That the ACTION DOES NOT DETERMINE THE TENSE!!
There is NOT ONE correct tense to use with each single action.
MEANING decides which Tense expresses the speaker best.

And we will look at the implications of this even more!!

Click me!



So for some more practice:
What differences (possibly very small, very subtle) are there between the following pairs of sentences?
Can you finish them?
A "I will be on holiday next week, so..."
B "I am on holiday next week, so..."

A "I will be on holiday next week, so don't call me."
B "I am on holiday next week, so let's finish this report before I go."
Here we can see how the focus is different. In the NOW or in that FUTURE MOMENT.
(Please remember that in referring to the future we are flexible and more than one option is almost always possible!)

Click me!



What differences (possibly very small, very subtle) are there between the following pairs of sentences?
Can you finish them?
A "The election is on Thursday, so..."
B "The election will be on Thursday, so..."

A "The election is on Thursday, so all the TV programmes are about it at the moment."
B "The election will be on Thursday, so we will know the results on Friday!"
Here we can see how the focus is different. In the NOW or in that FUTURE MOMENT.
(Please remember that in referring to the future we are flexible and more than one option is almost always possible!)

Click me!



What differences (possibly very small, very subtle) are there between the following pairs of sentences?
Can you finish them?
A "Next month the interest rates will fall to 1%, I say this because..."
B "Next month the interest fall to 1%, I say this because..."

A "Next month the interest rates will fall to 1%, I say this because all the key predictors point to this happening."
B "Next month the interest fall to 1%, I say this because the central bank announced it last week."
Here we can see how the focus is different. In the NOW or in that FUTURE MOMENT.
(Please remember that in referring to the future we are flexible and more than one option is almost always possible!)

Click me!


Confusing News about the Future #2

Books state there is another possible use of WILL for Plans.
It is used for STRONG INTENTIONS for the Future.
"Look don't worry, I WILL DEFINITELY COME tomorrow!"
This use of WILL is actually as A MODAL, a modal of resolution and commitment and can in the right context replace GOING TO, PRESENT SIMPLE or PRESENT CONTINUOUS...but it is NOT describing PERCEPTION of the event but rather, as a modal, the speaker's...

...MOOD.

Click me!




In a similar way SHALL is also a MODAL and we will see that too shortly.

However this use of WILL is actually quite CONSISTENT with the idea of WILL being without...

...being without a before, a past, a previous. By focusing on a NEW or FUTURE moment, isolated from what happens before.

Click me!



Why do I say that with this sentence for example?
"Look don't worry, I WILL DEFINITELY COME tomorrow!"

Because possibly it communicates the idea that nothing can stop me before I come.
It's an unchangeable FIXED FACT!
I am saying that we can ignore the 'before', I will just arrive at that moment no matter what!

Click me!



I appreciate that this section have been a tad strange, so let's have a little recap...
What might the speaker be communicating here in terms of Future Plans/Facts?
Next year I am going to leave school.

So with GOING TO the CLASSIC meaning is that it is just an INTENTION.
However, it could be something completely organized if the speaker is just being 'relaxed'
Either way it communicates either an action or a person that is not 'rigid'.

Click me!



What might the speaker be communicating here in terms of Future Plans/Facts?
Next year I am leaving school.

Here we might imagine that the school has been informed.
The other option might be that the speaker is determined to do this, however it might not yet be finalised.
Either way, we feel that the action has 'started', either officially or personally.
It has an air of 'seriousness'.

Click me!



What might the speaker be communicating here in terms of Future Plans/Facts?
Next year I leave school.

The possibilities here are that the action is almost 'fact-like'.
It has been decided and probably organized and will definitely happen.
It is possible that it might only reflect the speaker's intentions but even then the speaker is communicating how very determined they are.
Another possiblity is that it is a 'FACT', not a 'PLAN'. Unchangeable.
And a slight emphasis to include the present, for example:
"Next year I leave school so I am looking for a job now."

Click me!



What might the speaker be communicating here in terms of Future Plans/Facts?
Next year I will leave school.

Well, as a plan it could be a new one.
It could also be a plan that the speaker is SUPER DETERMINED to do at all costs!
And it also could be a FACT for the future, with a slight emphasis on the future moment.
A future fact because it is unchangeable, so perhaps the speaker is in the last year of school for example.
So perhaps we could have a longer sentence like this:
"Next year I will leave school so then I won't have to do any more exams!"

Click me!


[Sourced: EnglishAdam.com]

Test Your Knowledge!

Question


"Next year I am going to leave school."

What is communicated here by using GOING TO?

Theory Test


Click to show

Answer


That it is either an INTENTION,
or that there is a general flexibility about the plans made.

Notes


Click to show

Notes


No specific notes on this question yet, sorry.
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