BBC Africa editor Will Ross says it seems unlikely that the move will appease the protesters.

Is it still correct to say:

BBC Africa editor Will Ross says it seems unlikely that the move appeases the protesters.

  • 2
    What is being discussed is the likelihood of appeasement in the future. The future form "will appease" is required. Feb 7, 2019 at 8:01
  • I saw before how we can use present tense with the meaning of future...so you say it's not possible here? Feb 7, 2019 at 9:31
  • 1
    Not in that sentence. Feb 7, 2019 at 12:15
  • 1
    Eh, it can work as a present with the meaning of the future, but it depends on a lot of context. There are similar concerns and issues as in the present historical.
    – SamBC
    Feb 7, 2019 at 17:31

1 Answer 1


I would say, like the present historical, it is best to avoid using the present tense to mean the future. Just use the future tense and avoid ambiguity.

So, if I heard the the second sentence on the BBC, I would not necessarily think it was grammatically bad. I would interpret it as

'it seems unlikely the move appeases the protesters right now or will do [by implication] in the future'

For some reason I'm not entirely sure of, the second sentence sounds better if you replace 'seems' with 'is'.

Overall, however, I would reiterate that if one means the future, it is better to use the future tense. Certainly the 'historical present' is something that, while widely used in things like TV documentaries, adds nothing to meaning. For reasons I admit are based purely on my own stylistic bias and snobbery, I wish it would go away.

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