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  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #1

    Ways of expressing the future

    I have just come across this poll. The thread, Appointments , started in 2003, but still gets the occasional response. As I write this, 1,338 people have voted – I have added the figures for the percentage of the vote that went to each option.

    If you have an appointment, which sentence do you use?
    I will see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 23.54%
    I am going to see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 46.49%
    I am seeing the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 11.36%
    I see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 2.84%
    I'd use more than one. - 15.77%

    One native speaker wrote, “I can't vote, because I don't use any of them. (I'd say, "I have an appointment tomorrow for 3 o'clock.")
    That speaker later wrote, “What is important here is to know what is not used ("I see the dentist tomorrow"). All the rest are acceptable.”
    Another, non-native, wrote “I gonna see…”
    Three people asked what the ‘correct’ answer is.

    I am starting this new thread because learners often want to know the ‘correct’ or ‘the best’ form in particular contexts, and there are often exercises in books in which the learner has to choose the correct/best/most appropriate form.

    My own view is that such exercises usually provide far too little context to state with any certainty that one form is more likely to be used by native speakers than all others. My answer to this poll would be that the second, third and fourth are all quite likely answers. In the brief context of If you have an appointment…, I don’t think that many native speakers would say ‘I will see …’. I think it’s likely that nearly a quarter of the respondents chose this because, as non-native speakers, they believed that the so-called ‘future tense’ was appropriate.

    I am interested in how we express the future*, and would be interested to see what others think about this.


    *http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Future.pdf
    Last edited by 5jj; 30-Jul-2011 at 10:08. Reason: typos, of course

  2. Hedwig's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I have just come across this poll. The thread, Appointments , started in 2003, but still getsthe occasional response. As I write this, 1,338 people have voted – I have added the figures for the percentage of the vote that went to each option.

    If you have an appointment, which sentence do you use?
    I will see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 23.54%
    I am going to see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 46.49%
    I am seeing the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 11.36%
    I see the dentist tomorrow at 3. – 2.84%
    I'd use more than one. - 15.77%

    One native speaker wrote, “I can't vote, because I don't use any of them. (I'd say, "I have an appointment tomorrow for 3 o'clock.")
    That speaker later wrote, “What is important here is to know what is not used ("I see the dentist tomorrow"). All the rest are acceptable.”
    Another, non-native, write “I gonna see…”
    Three people asked what the ‘correct’ answer is.

    I am starting this new thread because learners often want to know the ‘correct’ or ‘the best’ form in particular contexts, and there are often exercises in books in which the learner has to choose the correct/best/most appropriate form.

    My own view is that such exercises usually provide far too little context to state with any certainty that one form is more likely to be used by native speakers than all others. My answer to this poll would be that the second, third and fourth are all quite likely answers. In the brief context of If you have an appointment…, I don’t think that many native speakers would say ‘I will see …’. I think it’s likely that nearly a quarter of the respondents chose this because, as non-native speakers, they believed that the so-called ‘future tense’ was appropriate.

    I am interested in how we express the future*, and would be interested to see what others think about this.


    *http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Future.pdf
    You've made my day, Five. I replied 'I'd use more than one', with a feeling that 'I will see' wasn't very natural.
    I'll be following this thread with interest.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    For regular verbs, I use the simple future inflected form.

    Oh, wait...

    (Sorry. I just couldn't resist.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    I'll be following this thread with interest too.

    The irony is that almost all grammar books I have fall over themselves to make learners use 'I am seeing the doctor tomorrow" (considering it's a fixed plan or an appointment), but, according to the poll, only eleven-something per cent of the people opted for this answer.

    "I'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow" also seems to be a (good?) alternative.

    5jj, your article opened my eyes to some things, but doing tests and correcting students' answers have become far more challenging since I read it. Now I have to face the truth that a number of answers (providing narrow context is given) are acceptable.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    I'll be following this thread with interest too.
    I am hoping we get some counter- arguments and discussion, so that we can really clear up the confusion

    The irony is that almost all grammar books I have fall over themselves to make learners use 'I am seeing the doctor tomorrow" (considering it's a fixed plan or an appointment), but, according to the poll, only eleven-something per cent of the people opted for this answer.
    However, many go for for ' I am going to...', and that attracted 46% of the votes. What frustrates me is that some books try to pretend that there is always a real difference between 'I am seeing' and 'I am going to see'. I believe that the difference is often, in practical terms, insignificant.

    "I'll be seeing the doctor tomorrow" also seems to be a (good?) alternative. I agree.

    5jj, your article opened my eyes to some things, but doing tests and correcting students' answers have become far more challenging since I read it. Now I have to face the truth that a number of answers (providing narrow context is given) are acceptable.
    That is the practical drawback of my approach (or, rather, the approach I favour - I am far from the first to think this way) - we are fighting against course books and grammars that prescribe one, and only one, of the possible forms, with too little context to justify the prescription. For many students, and quite a few teachers, if the books say it is so, then it must be so.
    I have met teachers who feel that what they, and everybody they know, have said all their lives must be wrong, just because a book says it is. As I suggested in post #1, native speakers might naturally use any one of at least three of the choices given. Too many books imply that one is 'better' than the others.

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    My serious answer is to agree with the person who said they would say "I have a dentist appointment tomorrow."

    Otherwise, "I'm going to the dentist tomorrow" is my choice, though any of the three choices could spontaneously come out of my mouth.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #7

    Re: Ways of expressing the future

    I go along with Barb on this, while "I've got the dentist tomorrow" could also 'spontaneously come out of my mouth'.

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    #8

    not a teacher

    "I am going to the dentist tomorrow."

  6. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: not a teacher

    Quote Originally Posted by Vidor View Post
    "I am going to the dentist tomorrow."
    Several people have said that this is one possible response. Most of us feel that at least three of the answers are perfectly natural, as are some not listed. I argue that there is not one 'correct' or 'best' answer, and that this type of exercise/test for students is often unhelpful.

    (Note: the original thread was a poll, not a test.)

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