I asked a colleague:

"are we restarting (some application) today"

He responded with:

"i don’t understand the verb tense of your question: did we ? will we?"

Am I using the wrong tense here? Is what I said/wrote incorrect?

Perhaps I am missing something, because I don't get why he doesn't understand. I guess I could have said "will we (be) ..", is that the correct form/tense?

Thank you

3 Answers 3


I'm quite sure your question is grammatically sound. Maybe he's just picking on you?

The same could be said of: what are you doing today? (which means "what will you do today?"). The sense of "I am going to do X" should already tell you that this is an acceptable form to address the future.

In fact, if I'm not mistaken, in English there was no future tense, Proto-Germanic language only talked about the future using verbs in the present tense (something that was kept in German ("Ich mache es heute/I [will] do it today"). In other languages, such as Spanish, you can say "[yo] haré", which is "do" in the future tense. You don't have this possibility in English.

  • There is no future tense, but there is future mood (if I am not mistaken), using "shall" and "will". If "mood" is not the most suitable, then another word will surely fit. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_tense#English
    – virolino
    Apr 16, 2019 at 4:57

You used the tense I would have, and I'm a native English speaker. Quite a few of my coworkers would also use that particular tense in this situation.

By using the present tense joined with 'today', the message properly would have an affirmative answer whether the application had been restarted earlier in the day, if it was in the middle of restarting just then, or if there were plans to restart it later on in the day.

That having been said, many people on the autistic spectrum have difficulty grasping the sense of now being stretched over a full day like this. While you used English just fine, communication takes two people to successfully use their language skill, and your communication partner failed their skill roll.

There are also a number of people who aren't on the spectrum who are still overly literal or just haven't been exposed to that phrasing who are thrown by it. If the person you were talking to isn't a native English speaker, there could be some additional hurtles to understanding that question, because different languages are different, even as different people are different.

  • To call somebody "on the autistic spectrum" just because they do not know (and inquire about it) when a short action will happen during the span of the day is totally rude and unwelcome. Even if the inquiry was sarcastic, as presented by the OP.
    – virolino
    Apr 16, 2019 at 5:02
  • @virolino First, there is nothing wrong with the statement about how people on the autism spectrum relate to some things. Second, Ed Grimm has said in other answers that they are on the spectrum, so it's an appropriate piece of information. Apr 16, 2019 at 14:29
  • I am not saying "Person X is on the spectrum". I'm also not saying "only people on the spectrum". This is one of those things that many of us on the spectrum struggle with. I struggled with this when I was younger. There's a lot of people who aren't on the spectrum who do, too, but I don't have a handy way to verbally point at them.
    – Ed Grimm
    Apr 17, 2019 at 1:55

Although I am not a native English speaker, I have to disagree with the other answers.

It is obvious: the application restart occurs today. But when does this happen? Did this already happen? (Probably not, past tense should have been used). Is it started and not yet finished? Will it be restarted later? At what time?

The level of precision in specifying time in this case is important. If I have to do something very important using that application, and the application is not working, then I have to adjust my schedule in order to meet the deadline.

So saying that the colleague is "on the autistic spectrum" (written by @EdGrimm) is highly offensive for no reason, considering the situation. In these cases, detailed information is very important.

Moreover, I have trouble with the OP's message itself:

I asked a colleague:

"are we restarting (some application) today"

He writes "asked" and then he provides a simple statement (worded as a question). My point of view is that OP should just try to be more specific when communicating something, whether if transmitting information, or asking something.

  • If it's happening, the timing of it is important. But that doesn't need to be addressed before figuring out if it's a thing for today or not. The OP was asking about what was presumably a conversation opener (or at least an opener to an aspect of conversation.) You talk like it needed to bring in the conclusion.
    – Ed Grimm
    Apr 17, 2019 at 2:04

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