I have found the two sentences in Michael Swan's Practical English Usage .(page no 556)

1.This discovery means that we will have to spend less on food.

2 This Discovery will mean that we spend less on food.

It was explained that " if the main verb of a sentence makes it clear that what kind of time the speaker is talking about , it is not necessary for the same time to be indicated again in subordinate clauses"

The author talks about the tenses in the clauses but I could not understand whether the change of the tenses in the main and subordinate clauses changes the meaning of the two sentences given above

I would like to know if both the sentences mean the same thing or do they differ in meaning

  • The first sentence is a statement of necessity, the second a statement of reality. The use of have to isn't really a matter of tense (because had to would indicate the same necessity). Aug 24, 2019 at 14:24
  • Jason Bassford. if we say "we will spend less on food",will the meaning be the same, sir? Aug 24, 2019 at 14:30
  • 1
    It would be the same as the second sentence. Aug 24, 2019 at 19:13

1 Answer 1


Your question asks about differences in meaning due to changes in the tense, but the example sentences do not only differ in tense. As pointed out by @Jason Bassford in the comments the inclusion of have to introduces a significant change in meaning. To remove this difference so that your question is solely about tense we can compare the two sentences:

1. This discovery means that we will spend less on food

2. This discovery will mean that we spend less on food

The effect of these two sentences is the same, in sentence 1 the current meaning (implication) of the discovery is that in the future we will be spending less on food. In sentence 2 the future meaning (implication) of the discovery will be that (at that time in the future) we will be spending less on food.

So although there is a difference in expression the effective meaning of both sentences is the same - in the future spending on food will be reduced because of this discovery.

  • Lambdon, I did not ask ask about the tense but about the meaning change because of the change in the tense Aug 25, 2019 at 15:01
  • @Jagatha - I am sorry if I was not clear. I have edited the answer to clarrify. I understood your question, and due to the differences other than tense removed those to be able to explain that there is no difference in meaning resulting from the tense. Aug 25, 2019 at 19:59

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