English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question on ELU asked

In this sentence "Look at the timetable. Hurry up! Flight 4026 takes off at 6:20." Can I replace "will take off" with "takes off"?

A user commented on the question like this

They do not mean the same. The Simple Present Tense (Present Indefinite) is used for something that happens regularly/ usually/ normally -- Flight 4026 (generally) takes off at 6:20 . On the other hand, the formal future tense will+verb indicates a (definite) possibility in the future

and I asked that user this question

Are you saying that it would be incorrect to say The plane takes off at 6:20 in the case where that route and timing had never been flown before and will never be flown again by that plane ?

They kindly directed me to ELL for an answer, so here I am asking the question

Is it incorrect to say The plane takes off at 6:20 in the case where that route and timing had never been flown before and will never be flown again by that plane?

share|improve this question
It could be a lot easier for you if you think of English tenses as a two-tense system (past and non-past), and will as just a modal verb (to express a possibility in the future). For what it's worth, I agree with njboot's answer there. – Damkerng T. May 17 '14 at 9:31
@Damkerng As a life long (very long) native speaker I don't have a grasp of all these Simple Present/ Formal Future tense definitions as I didn't have to learn them; I just know what words to use. However, I'm not above learning something new (or finding out that something I thought was correct is in fact wrong). The sentence in question seems perfectly fine to me but being unaware of the intricacies of the tense terminology I thought I'd better check. – Frank May 17 '14 at 10:03
Sorry about that. I thought you were the OP of the original question there! I read that comment again, and I think what you were really arguing was about that "regularly/ usually/ normally" part, right? Imo, I think it's fair to say that "regularly, usually, normally" covers things such as timetables. So I read that comment as "they do not mean the same", but that doesn't mean that either of them can't be used in the example sentence, and it implies "it's fine to say The plane takes off at 6:20 in the case you gave". – Damkerng T. May 17 '14 at 10:24
@DamkerngT. No problem and thanks for the further confirmation that The plane takes off at 6:20 does not depend on it being a repetitive or normal event. – Frank May 17 '14 at 10:46
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It does not matter whether it has ever flown before or it's only flying one time.

The simple present can be used for something that is happening for sure (irrespective of the number of times it has happened in the past or will happen in the future).

See these -

The movie starts in 10 minutes - Talking about the movie which is starting in a few minutes. It could be for a movie that has never been shown before i.e. this is the first show. Nor am I talking about the future shows of the movie.

In the same way,

The train departs in 10 minutes, hurry - I am concerned about the event that is happening for sure in the future.

So, you can say that whether the flight happens to be for the first time or for the last time.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.