In one English lessons book there is this case where the 'Incorrect' sentence is replaced with the 'Correct' one.

(Incorrect) Tom didn't leave work until 6:00, so he will not likely be here before 7:00.

(Correct) Tom didn't leave work until 6:00, so he is not likely to be here before 7:00.

But I can't get what rules of Grammar this correction is based on. I.e. why present (he is) but not future (he will) should be used in the second clause?

It looks like some sort of the Sequence of Tenses. And if i modify this sentence a bit it will look like the mixed Conditional 2 and 1 which seems correct:

If Tom didn't leave work until 6:00, then he will not likely be here before 7:00.

  • I dispute that the first not grammatical. It is slightly archaic, and the second example is in more common usage, but the second example is absolutely fine. Search for "he will not likely" and you will find hundreds of examples of it used in journalism and published books. – Ben I. Apr 3 '17 at 14:11

Both sentences are grammatically correct, but the first one is uncommon in BrE due to the positioning of not likely.

Both likely and not likely can be used as a mid-position adverb (in both AmE and BrE), most commonly between a "will" and a main verb (source). If your textbook is BrE, it is possible that it would see it as "wrong" for the reason that it is uncommon in BrE (they might see it as an abhorrent "Americanism", to be stamped out in BrE).

To me (as a Brit) the first sentence would sound better if it said instead:

Tom didn't leave work until 6:00, so it is not likely that he will be here before 7:00.

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  • According to my English teacher's explanation 'likely' itself indicates future. So its usage with another indicator of future is redundant. – far.be Apr 3 '17 at 19:09

I'm not sure what grammar rules your lesson is based on either, since both your "correct" and "incorrect" sentences are fine.

As with many languages, there are various ways in English to express something. Here you are either using the future tense to express what will happen (Tom will be late) or the present tense to express a current condition (Tom is "running late"). Some other examples:

I planted my garden in the spring, so I will have vegetables this summer.
I planted my garden in the spring, so I am likely to have vegetables this summer.

She has a cold so she will not be in class this afternoon.
She has a cold she is not going to class this afternoon.

They spent all their money so they won't be watching the movie with us tonight.
They spend all their money so they are not watching the movie with us tonight.

With all of these, the first expresses a future condition, and the second expresses a current condition with future consequences. Both are correct.

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  • But in your "cold" example it's also perfectly natural to say ...so she is not going to go to class this afternoon. Admittedly it's a bit formal/dated to say I go to class tomorrow, but I'm going to class tomorrow is fine, and I think it's stretching a point to say such use of present tense expresses a "current condition" rather than a future action. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 3 '17 at 17:19

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