While it's perfectly clear to me that one can use the present tense to talk about scheduled and fixed events in the future:

Our train leaves tomorrow at 9pm.

and so on, I've seen and used this structure myself many times while talking about plans for the future. My question is: is it grammaticaly correct? And if so, why is it never covered in any textbooks?


Tomorrow, you have to tell him why I haven't handed in my essay yet.


I have a date next week.

and a little more complex one

Here's the plan: I'll find a parking spot, while you go look for a place where we can eat. Then you call me and tell me where you are so I can join you"

In the last example, would there be any difference if instead I'd go with "Then you call me and I'll join you" or stick to the present tense in the first part, as in: "I find a parking spot..."?

2 Answers 2


Since English doesn't have a future tense, somebody has to do it.

Will and shall are auxillary verbs that are used, among other things, to refer to future time. They attach to the noun as 'll.

Regarding your questions:

It is grammatical.

It is covered in textbooks (example).

Yes, you can say:

Then you call me and tell me where you are and I'll join you.

Strictly speaking I'll join you is not using a future tense.

  • I've heard that English doesn't have a future tense, but I still can't understand why.
    – Bebop B.
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 0:02
  • It means that we do not express future tense in the form of the verb itself, like we do for present (I sing) and past (I sang). Theoretically, there could be some future tense form that could look like I seng.
    – user6951
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 0:58
  • It is irrelevant to the language users if a tense is constructed by conjugating the verb (a separate tense) or by using an auxiliary verb. What is relevant is that the concept of a future action can be expressed in English using "will". Also, this subject has nothing to do with OP's question. Commented Nov 15, 2019 at 10:37

Yes, it is grammatically correct. The element that all your examples have in common is that they all have a connection with the present.

Example 1: The obligation already exists but the first opportunity to tell him is tomorrow. (Equally we could say, "Tomorrow you will have to tell him" but since we already know this is an obligation ("I haven't handed in the essay yet" implies you probably already should have), it is syntactically nicer to use the present).

Example 2: The date is already arranged, hence you have it now (arranged). "Have" implies possession, so it parses better in present since you already "possess" it. (Note that with a different verb, things could change dramatically of course: e.g. "I am going on a date next week".)

Example 3: "So" (in order to) reads much better with the modal "can" rather than "I will be able to" - "can" being the element in present here. You could change the last part (as you suggest), "then you call me and I'll join you", noting that it would be incorrect to use the present: "~~then you call me and I join you~~".

  • Can you come up with a situation when it'd be incorrect to use the present tense in the first example? As to the second one: in what way is it diffrent from saying for instance "I'm having diner with my girlfriend tomorrow"? I have it arranged, yet it doesn't seem wrong to say it that way? The last one is the most vague for me, as I seem to be getting all the tenses correct, but I do it mostly intuitively, without understanding why. Espesially considering that when you type "here's the plan:" in google many of those statements come solely in the present tense.
    – Bebop B.
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 23:54
  • Example 1: "At some point, you will have to tell him". The present would also be OK to my ear, but the future sounds better here. Example 2: Good point, but you're using "have" to mean "eat" or "go to (dinner)", which becomes an action - much more likely to be expressed with present continuous. Example 3: Yes, you could almost exclusively use the present narrative style (giving immediacy to the actions in a plan): "I find a parking spot, while you go look for a place where we can eat. Then you call me and tell me where you are and I join you".
    – JMB
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 11:47

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