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"So when I come to London my English will be better" vs

"So when I'll come to London my English will be better"

Can anyone help me with these phrases?

Thanks

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  • First one is correct because "I'll" is short for "I will". "When" already indicates that you'll come in the future, so you don't tell the reader you'll will come.
    – RShields
    Jul 4, 2017 at 17:27
  • The second is ungrammatical for most speakers.
    – tchrist
    Jul 4, 2017 at 17:28
  • The present tense is often used (with a temporal phrase) to specify future events: 'I fly to London tomorrow.' 'The tournament begins on Thursday.' 'I'm back next Tuesday.' // Constructions using modal 'will' are not used in prepositional phrases used as temporal adverbials (*'When I will get there, I'll have dinner') though they are with temporal pseudo-subjects ('When I will get there is anyone's guess'). Jul 4, 2017 at 17:39

2 Answers 2

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This is a bit of English that gives problems to many learners.

We never use an explicit future tense in a "when" or "if" clause.

So "When I come to London", not "When I will/I'll come to London".

There are a few exceptions, but they're rather special. For normal purposes, you can take that as a rule.

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  • So would it be correct if I used the phrase ' when I come to London my English will be better?' Jul 4, 2017 at 17:57
  • A good way to think about it is you're thinking of yourself in that specific moment in the future - the "when" moment. At that point, getting there happens in the present, hence the present tense. Jul 4, 2017 at 18:30
  • The trouble with that argument, @JimMacKenzie, is that it only works in the future: if you accept it, why don't we say "When I am going to work, I saw John"? For that reason, I don't think it's helpful.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 7, 2017 at 14:54
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"When I come to London..." is not 'present simple', it is describing (now) an uncertain possibility (subjunctive mode). What we can say is that I haven't come to London, and I'm not sure when/if I ever will. But in the event I DO come to London then my English will improve.

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  • There's nothing "subjunctive" about "When I come to London". It's not an irrealis (like "if I come to London") and would not have been expressed by a subjunctive verb at any stage of the language. The verb is indeed present simple; but as in many cases in English, this can be used with future meaning, and in this syntactic context an explicit future is not allowed. -1 for misinformation.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 5, 2017 at 8:05
  • @ColinFine - as you say, a usage that gives problems to many learners... :-)
    – Dan
    Jul 5, 2017 at 12:37

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