When we want to say we don't care about something which may happen in the future. Should we use the simple present tense?

Let's say I am going to ask a girl out for the first time (I never asked her out before). In this situation, is the sentence "I don't care if she says no. I am going to ask her out" correct, or should I say something like "I don't care if she is going to say no" instead of "I don't care if she says no"?

Another example: Let's say I am going to a dangerous place, or I am generally not scared of death. In these contexts, can I say "I don't care if I die", or should I say like "I don't care if I am going to die"?

I think I should use the version with simple present. What do you think?

1 Answer 1


Either way works, though the simple present does sound more natural to my ear (I'm a native English-speaker).

I don't know if anyone would parse things out this way in ordinary usage, but using the is going to construction to express a future state gives an impression of inevitability. She may say no in the future either way, but she is going to gives a vague suggestion that she's already in the process of saying no while if she says keeps the emphasis on the conditional nature of the sentence.

  • But is going to isn't (functionally speaking) a progressive at all. It's one of several ways to express future meaning, along with the will modal (usually referred to bizarrely as "the future tense") and the so-called "present" (which is not used for present meaning apart from a restricted class of verbs, and special contexts such as narrative).
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 27, 2018 at 17:55
  • In specific usages I definitely agree, but the same construction does sometimes indicate progressive cases ("She is going to the mall, for example). That's why I presented things as I did, but I may be stepping all over my grammar. I'll edit the post and remove the tense name regardless, to make things clearer.
    – Upper_Case
    Jun 27, 2018 at 18:10
  • I absolutely agree that is going to can be progressive; but in the idiom is going to [verb] it isn't.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 27, 2018 at 18:13
  • @FireandIce Note that in your examples you use if to mean whether (as native English speakers do all the time because it's quick and easy). It's only when English speakers learn a foreign language that requires different verb constructions after if and whether that most become aware of the difference. Jun 27, 2018 at 21:58

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