May I request to clarify the time references for the following subordinate clauses of the sentence :

  1. "He will come to know what I need" or "What I need will be known to him"

  2. "He will come to know that I need something" or "That I need something will be known to him"

The contexts in both the above are that "I need something in the present (now) which will be known to him in future.

What will be the time reference of subordinate clauses "what I need/that I need something"? My instinct tells me present time even though the main clause is in future. Or will these be 'Present in the future time' examples.

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    – AIQ
    May 6, 2020 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


I think either of those expression could refer to present needs that will become known to someone else, or to future needs that will become known to someone else at a future time.
To make it clear, you should use a different expression, for example,
"I need xyz, and he will come to know that."
In contrast, if you refer to future needs,
"I will be needing xyz, and he will come to know that."

  • Dear Jack, Thanks for your reply. The doubt is in the applicable time aspect of the subordinating clause restricted to whether it(the present time of subordinate clause ) gets affected by the future time and tense reference of the main clause"He will come to know" or it remains independent of main clause time and thus can refer to either Present or future time.Thanks
    – Sanjay
    Apr 28, 2020 at 13:25

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