What is the difference between when I said:

They come, when they are ready.


They will come, when they are ready.


1 Answer 1


They come when they are ready. (No comma)

This does not actually express the future: the present simple expresses things general truths about the present. For example, if I say "I eat cereal for breakfast", it is not limited to just today or the future. It means I eat cereal everyday. I may not have eaten much cereal, and in the future I may instead eat toast, but for the present it is true. Thus, your example means that whenever they are ready, whether it's today, tomorrow, or yesterday, they come.

They will come when they are ready.

This indicates the future. It is not necessarily as general as the present simple. This just indicates a single instance. When I say, "I will eat cereal when it's time for breakfast", I mean that the next time it is time for breakfast, I'm going to eat cereal - just that once.

  • They come when they are ready cannot refer to the past.
    – user20792
    Nov 5, 2015 at 1:52

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