The title comes from the song Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey (YouYube).

"Will you" == future, "I'm" == present.

Is that sentence correct? It does sound a little weird to me, since in italian we usually have accordance between different parts of the same sentence.

 Will you still love me      when          I'm no longer...
 Mi amerai ancora           quando         non sarò più...
      ^^^^                                      ^^^
     future                                future again

This would be wrong:

 Mi amerai ancora           quando         non sono più...
      ^^^^                                      ^^^
     future                                   present
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    will you - future; I'm -present. Correct! And the question is about the future possibility of the current state then!
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 11:05
  • The translation into Italian is really not necessary, your question was clear without it. If it is not clear we will ask questions to help you improve your question. Comparing languages is more for linguistics.se than ELL. Here it is not a question of "have accordance between different parts of the same sentence." but of having a present tense expressing a future action/state "when I'm no longer young and beautiful" being a future state, which you have perfectly understood.
    – None
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:16
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    The Italian shows an interesting point though: Italian has a purely grammatical future verb tense, which English lacks.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:17
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    @Laure: it was indeed clear enough as a question! The addition does add something to it though because it shows a possible source of confusion many people encounter whose native language does have similar future tenses. So even though the question was clear, I thank izabera for adding a detail that makes it more useful to future visitors :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:29
  • 3
    @oerkelens - Not to mention that the revision helps teach the native speakers something many of us would regard as quite interesting.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:34

5 Answers 5


Yes, that sentence is correct!

The future in English is not only formed with will or other auxiliary verbs. There are people that argue that English does actually not have a future tense at all!

Whether or not one agrees on that statement, there is definitely an obvious difference between English (and some Germanic sister languages like Dutch and German) and the Romance languages in the formation of grammatical tenses.

French or Italian, like Latin, can express a future tense in much the same way they express a grammatical number: by changing the suffix of the verb. In English there are hardly any suffixes for the grammatical number (the 3rd person singular takes an -s, and that is just about it!) and for different tenses, only the simple past shows in the verb ending (as -ed).

To indicate that something will happen at some point in the future, rather than now or in the past, we use extra words to signal that. We can use auxiliary verbs like will to indicate that (sometimes called the future tense), but we can also simply use words or phrases that describe a future moment, like next week, tonight or tomorrow. This is quite an interesting process, and not always very simple...

Look what happens to this simple present (continuous) sentence:

I am eating.

It means that presently, I am in the act of consuming food. I can even say what I am eating, and where, and it still is present:

I am eating a steak in a restaurant.

But now, I can add when I am eating, and all of a sudden the sentence gets a future meaning!

Tonight, I am eating a steak in a restaurant.

This is a normal way to express that I plan to eat at a future moment.

If you use the word when to indicate a certain moment in time, you can also use a grammatical present tense and still get a future meaning:

Please tell me when you are ready.

You are not ready now, you will be at some future moment, and then I want you to tell me.

Your original example came from a song, YouTube has The Beatles singing one with a very similar construction: When I'm Sixty-Four.

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    While your points are useful to understand why the grammar works like this, you should have first started by explaining that this is actually basic time concordance in subordinates. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 14:57
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    @BogdanAlexandru What do you mean exactly? Time concordance in subordinates is hardly basic if this example shows that a syntactical present concords fine with a syntactic future, just because it is a modal future. That there has to be concordance is already acknowledged in the question, the question is why there is no syntactic concordance. Introducing big words to the answer won't help to clarify it, I think. And calling it basic doesn't make it so. In Italian, the concordance is basic as the question shows. In English, I don't think so.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 15:04
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    It doesn't even have to be in subordinate clauses. For example, "I'm learning to swim next year for sure," is perfectly fine in English, too. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 17:59
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    @oerkelens I am Romanian, and my language is the same as Italian. However I kept learning these rules in English classes that now they seem "basic" to me, and I thought it was only natural in English language, so that native speakers get it easily. Sorry if I jumped too much into conclusions. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 18:49
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    I agree with @Bogdan: it seems simpler to me to know that in a subordinate clause (especially a conditional), we usually omit the will, than to talk about situations where you could either include or omit will, with no clear guidance as to which is correct or preferred.
    – LarsH
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 9:17

Just to add to @oerkelens' answer about the future you could note that in subordinate time clauses introduced with conjunctions when, before, as soon as, until the present is used to refer to a future event.

  • I'm so tired I will go to bed as soon as I get home.
  • I won't move until he tells me to do so.
  • I'll have a bath before we have dinner.
  • 3
    Yes, to me this is the key point. It's a question of how English handles subordinate time clauses. In fact it sounds very strange to use the future here in English.
    – hunter
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 16:50

Yes, it's correct. The question contains a future tense and a time clause about the future.

English doesn't usually indicate the future tense within a future time clause.

For example:

I'll call you when I find out. / Will you call me when you find out?
I'll speak clearly when I call. / Will you speak clearly when you call?
I'll explain it until you understand.
You'll understand after I've spoken for about ten minutes.

We also tend to avoid using a future tense for conditional clauses, as in:

I'll call you if you ask me to. / Will you call me if I ask you to?
I won't call you unless you ask me to.

A famous exception with conditional clauses is when 'will' is used to show volition and/or compliance:

If you'll lend me ten bucks, I'll pay you back tomorrow. / If I'll lend you the ten bucks, will you promise to pay me back tomorrow?
I'll explain everything if you will just let me talk.

Some foreigners add the 'will' in future and conditional clauses because they're not familiar with this rule (or just wish to consciously object to it).

Typically English uses these tenses for the simple forms of future:

I will call you. (a simple declaration of the future)

I'm going to call you. (a plan, something set to happen in connection with the present, or something with some 'momentum' leading toward it)

I'm calling tonight as planned. (an arrangement or something which has some 'momentum' leading toward it -- typically sounds more arranged or agreed upon than the previous)

Don't forget our agreement: I call you tonight. Tomorrow, you call me. (an established arrangement, more often something recurring -- can sound odd outside of this context)

In just a couple minutes we will be flying over the North Pole. (an example of an -ing tense, or Present Continuous, to describe an action in progress at the future time we're referring to)

While the 'will' form (usually called the Future Simple, and some people claim that English has no true 'future tense') is often converted to present tense in a time or conditional clause, the others listed above are generally preserved. For example:

If it rains tonight, I'm going to stay in.
If it rains tonight, we don't go to the movies. (suggesting that that's 'the way it will be' if it rains)
If it rains tonight, I'll be curled up on the couch watching a movie and eating ice cream.

And we can use this with future clauses:

When you call me tonight I'm going to answer in a funny voice.
Agree. When you call me tonight, I tell you my answer. (again, an established deal)
When you call me tonight, I'll be trying out my new pogo stick and I might not hear the phone.

To sum it all up, check out the Beatles' song When I'm Sixty-Four, which gives us a question with a future clause (no 'will' there) and an example of the Future Continuous (will + VERB-ing) tense:

When I get older, losing my hair
Many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a Valentine...?


When is used as a conjunction which introduces a subordinate clause. In English a clause introduced by when or a similar construction (by the time) can never be in future tense. Yet, the context shows and refers to future; I’d say even a far future:

I’m no longer young.

Consequently the use of future tense is not required, it’s understood and the sentence is correct as it is.

If when was used as an adverb, then the future would be used correctly:

When will you come?

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    'a clause introduced by when or a similar construction (by the time) can never be in future tense' - Not so. "She will do it tomorrow, when she has time" and "She will do it tomorrow, when she will have time" are both acceptable; they mean slightly different things. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:04
  • Thank you for your answer, I got the fact that the context referred to future, I was just puzzled by the use of a present tense in such case. @StoneyB: mind explaining the difference?
    – izabera
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:11
  • @StoneyB, I think ‘when she will have time’ means when she is willing to have time. Am I wrong? If so it’s pure future tense? Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:15
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    No, it's an actual future. The difference lies between an 'integrated' when clause, when she has time, an adjunct to the head clause, and a non-restrictive relative when clause, when she will have time, an adjunct to tomorrow. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:33
  • @StoneyB, Thank you! It was quite hard to digest but I did it. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 12:45

This question refers to a classic difference between English and the Ronmance languages. It is not only restricted to "when" but deals with the use of tenses in time subclauses introduced by conjunctions of subordination like "when", "after", "as long as", "until"... When you have a future in the main clause you will have a present in the subclause (a future in Romance languages) : I"ll stay here as long as you need me. Notice that if,in such examples, you have a perfect future in Romance laguages you will find a present perfect in English : I'll phone you as soon as he has left. Quite logically, if we backshift these examples into the past we will see an extension of the differences along the same logical lines : He promised he would stay here as long as we needed him . He told me he would phone me as soon as the guy had left. In these two examples you would find a present and a past conditional in the Rom. languages; It appears that when the point of reference is the present you have a present or a present perfect in the time subclause. When you view things from the past you will find a simple past or a past perfect in the time subclause. It is important to stress that these differences only obtain in subordinate time clauses In an example like :" I don't know when he will eventually realise what is expected of him", the future is perfectly all right as we have to do with an indirect interrogation.

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