I need a little help with the grammar structure being used in this sentence

I'll pay the next time we have dinner.

Would it be wrong if I write

I'll pay the next time we'll have dinner"

I would appreciate it if someone can enlighten me on this. Thanks.


2 Answers 2


The following sentence is correct:

I'll pay the next time we have dinner.

have is present simple. we use present simple in several ways: according to the British Council, one of those ways is

something that is fixed in the future.
The school term starts next week.
The train leaves at 19:45 this evening.
We fly to Paris next week.

In this sentence I'll pay the next time fixes having dinner in the future, so we can use present simple to refer to a future event.

Note the if you use the next time to refer to an event in the past, you cannot use present simple to refer to a past event:

The next time we met, we had dinner.

If you did insert will it would be taken as an expression of planning, rather than a future event. For example, if you met somebody for a drink and things went well, you might say

Next time [we meet], we will have dinner

  • 1
    Clearer now, @AlanCarmack?
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 17:37

Okay, I'll give it a shot.

Yes, it would be incorrect for you to write "I'll pay the next time we'll have dinner."

First, let's do away with the contractions. What you are then saying is, "I will pay the next time we will have dinner."

If it is not immediately obvious to you that this is incorrect, allow to to attempt to explain why. In your sentence, you are attempting to assure/convince somebody that the next time the two of you have dinner together in the future, you will then pay the (future) bill.

It is assumed that this is because they paid for the bill this time but that is not really important. What is important is that when you say "I will pay..." you are making a promise about a future event that was heretofore somehow in doubt.

Since they paid for this dinner this time, you did not. You want to assure them you will treat them as well as they have treated you, so you make a promise to them about something they are uncertain of in the future.
It is NOT uncertain that the two of you will have dinner together again; it IS uncertain who will pay for it and you assure them that since it was them this time, next time it will be you.

In your sentence, for there to even be the uncertainty of who will pay for it there has to be the certainty of another dinner happening. You do not say "I will pay the next time we will have dinner". You COULD say "We WILL have dinner again, my friend... and when we do, I will pay for us both." You could also say "When we next have dinner together, I pay." but neither of these mean quite what you're trying to say.

However, you surely wouldn't say "When we will next have dinner together, I pay."

Essentially, we use "We will" or "I will" when we wish to assure others of something which we feel they may be uncertain about. Another dinner was never in question; for you to have doubt about who will pay for that dinner, that dinner must already be a certainty.

The ONLY WAY you could say it and be somewhat right would be to say, "I'll pay next time; we'll have dinner." This is just manipulation, though; here, the certainty is now "next time" and you are now assuring them two things; not only that you will pay the bill the next time the two of you eat together but also that that next time will be dinner and not, I suppose, breakfast, lunch or brunch.

Which is not at all what you were trying to say, either. I give these examples so that maybe you will better understand why it is that you can not say your sentence the way you are trying to say it.

So... in recap; it is incorrect for you to say "I will (do something) the next time we will (do something)." It can never be correct for you to say "...the next time we will (do something)..." because there is no doubt about "the next time" happening. In our phrase, we assume and speak of the "next time" as if it is certain... and if it IS certain, than we wish to assure you that it is also certain that we will pay the bill. Hope this helps. (Also that it was not TOO confusing.)

  • Please use paragraph breaks to make it easier for people to read longer answers like this.
    – sumelic
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 6:25
  • Sorry; I want to blame the fact that the TAB key does not indent and that the enter/return key ends the comment but I suppose there's never really any excuse.
    – Ron Kyle
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 6:34
  • Oh, that's right about comments, but I don't think the enter key should submit an answer. The formatting works a bit differently for the two of them.
    – sumelic
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 6:40
  • Yeah, you're totally correct about that. I just edited in some paragraph breaks and was using the enter/return key profusely :)
    – Ron Kyle
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 6:58
  • I'm not sure about the distinction you are making between "promise" and "undoubted". Consider these statements: "our next meeting will be in the summer"; "next time we meet, it will be summer". In the first one, " will" refers to the meeting, while in the second it refers to the summer; In both cases there is no doubt about the meeting and the "promise" is about the summer. There is probably another reason to avoid having two occurrences of "will" in the same sentence. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 15:36

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