0

The following sentence, which is found in a grammar test in a textbook for learners of English called Tourism 2 (OUP), is given by a tour guide as part of her explanation of a schedule:

As soon as we get to the station, we'll go to the hotel.

The same textbook contains the following as part of its Grammar Reference section:

will is not normally used to talk about timetables or planned events. We use will when we decide what to do at that particular moment, e.g. to promise or offer to do something, and to make requests.

Why do we use "will" future here, even though this is clearly not a decision being made at that particular moment. It's pre-planned.

Other future forms which are used to talk about arrangements (present continuous, "going to" future) don't seem to work in this sentence. Why not? Is it something to do with the fact that it's part of an independent clause that follows a dependent clause starting with 'as soon as'?

  • Where did you get this idea that will is not used for set times, itineraries, and timetables? Just because the simple present is used with regularly occurring phenomena (The train departs at 3PM sharp) does not mean that the future cannot be used in reference to something similar. We can say ...we will go straight to the hotel and we are going to go straight to the hotel and ...we are going straight to the hotel. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 2 '18 at 16:31
  • I've added the source for the idea that will is not used for set times, itineraries, and timetables, which is a textbook published by Oxford University Press. The idea that it's based on decisions made now rather than pre-planned things is common to every grammar I've read. @Tᴚoɯɐuo – Kit Johnson Oct 4 '18 at 1:45
  • Some explanation for why question this has been downvoted would be appreciated. I rarely post questions here and I'd like to know what the problem is. – Kit Johnson Oct 4 '18 at 1:47
  • 1
    @Kit Johnson: A statement about one's intended course of action upon reaching a destination is not a "timetable", nor is it an "event". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 4 '18 at 11:21
  • 1
    I don't think this deserves to be down-voted. Don't get too hung up on one down-vote, especially if you have looked over your question and feel that you have addressed any issues raised in the comments. I hope that someone will take the time to write an actual answer to explain that the "planned event" guidance for "will" isn't quite right. – ColleenV Oct 4 '18 at 11:31
2

A timetable:

The morning train to Boston departs at 10AM.

A planned event (but one that happens to be recurrent and regular):

The graduation ceremony takes place every year on May 22nd, rain or shine.

A planned "one-off" event:

The concert is on the 17th at 7PM.

A promise:

As soon as we get to the station, we will go to the hotel. I know you're very tired and don't want to begin sightseeing immediately.

But that is not to say that the following would be ungrammatical, as their contexts make the choice of tense perfectly valid:

The morning train to Boston will depart at 10AM. The switching problems have been repaired, so there will be no delay after all.

The graduation ceremony will take place on May 22nd, despite the protests.

The concert has been rescheduled and is going to take place on the 18th instead.

As soon as we get to the station we go to the hotel. We never go directly to a business meeting without freshening up first.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this. That you have written "a promise" makes it much clearer to me. – Kit Johnson Oct 8 '18 at 10:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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