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What are the most natural ways to say it?

  • (1) David just called. He said he will not be coming to the meeting.
  • (2) David just called. He said he will not come to the meeting.
  • (3) David just called. He said he is not going to come to the meeting.
  • (4) David just called. He said he isn't coming to the meeting.
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  • 3 sounds out-of-place to me. Others are okay
    – banuyayi
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 17:13
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    Won't and isn't are more natural than will not and is not, otherwise all are OK. Will not/won't come sounds like a refusal rather than a statement that he can't make it. Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 18:15
  • Listen, you guys, I will not be coming tomorrow. A very emphatic way to make something clear.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 14, 2022 at 21:21

2 Answers 2

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The question presents several examples of speech about a future event, or more exactly a future non-event, something that might have occurred but is now planned not to occur. These are:

  • (1) David just called. He said he "will not be coming" to the meeting.
  • (2) David just called. He said he "will not come" to the meeting.
  • (3) David just called. He said he "is not going to come" to the meeting.
  • (4) David just called. He said he "isn't coming" to the meeting.

Each of these is pragmatically valid. Each is natural, would be understood by a fluent speaker, and might well be used by a fluent speaker. The differences between them are matters of style. None is "best" or "most natural". In this context they all have essentially the same meaning.

However, each uses directly quoted speech of a third person. That is not the only, nor in my opnion the most common, way to speak opf such a situation. The speaker could, instead, use indirect (not quoted) reported speech. Or the speaker could merely describe the effect of the statements.

Examples using indirect speech:

  • (5) David just called. He said that he won't be coming to the meeting.
  • (6) David just called. He said that he won't be at the meeting.
  • (7) David just called. He said that he won't come to the meeting.

Examples not using reported speech at all:

  • (8) David just called. He won't be coming to the meeting.
  • (9) David just called. He won't be at the meeting.
  • (10) David just called. He won't come to the meeting.

All of (5)-(10) are also valid and natural, and they all carry much the same meaning.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Regarding the quotations, I've used them only for highlighting. But I should've put them in bold. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 7:29
  • I have another question if it is possible. Since they could all be used for this context and since it's not a matter of natural/correct. What are the differences and the feelings conveyed by each one? For example and according to @Kate Bunting the 2sd " sounds like a refusal rather than a statement that he can't make it." Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 7:33
  • @Meriem AISSAOUI I would disagree with Kate Bunting on that point, although her comments are often very good. Any of the sentences might be used as a refusal, or as an "I am unable to be present" in my view, and one cannot tell from the words alone. The tone of voice used, and the wider context might make the distinction clearer. In general I don't see a clear difference of feeling or implication among thse sentences in written form and standing as isolated examples. Only tone of voice and/or wider context will give that with any reliability, I think. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 14:58
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(2) Is a strong, possibly defiant statement of David's intent not to attend the meeting, probably despite the pressure he's getting.

All of the others are correct and natural ways to neutrally express that David won't be attending.

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