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  1. #11
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    As I said in an earlier post, "I also feel that, in certain situations the difference in meaning between the present progressive and the BE+going+to future is so slight as to be almost non-existent".

    However, in the following pair, there is a difference. The second part of #1 cannnot refer to the future; the second part of#2 can refer only to the future:

    1. I'm not going to the pub; it's raining.
    2. I'm not going to the pub; it's going to rain.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I have said in a previous thread on this subject that I wasn't going to comment on this topic any more because I very rarely see any difference whatsoever between "going to" and "will" and the other variations. Despite that promise and just to show how similar I feel they are, as far as I'm concerned, the following sentences mean exactly the same thing:

    I'm taking my driving test on Monday.
    I'm going to take my driving test on Monday.
    I'm going to be taking my driving test on Monday.
    I'll be taking my driving test on Monday.
    I will take my driving test on Monday.
    I'll not ask you to break your promise and follow this up; I'll merely express surprise that you feel no difference at all in these, particularly as far as the last is concerned.

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I'll not ask you to break your promise and follow this up; I'll merely express surprise that you feel no difference at all in these, particularly as far as the last is concerned.
    I'll follow it up anyway. I just feel that the result of all five of those sentences will be the same: On Monday, a driving test will be taken by me.

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I'll follow it up anyway. I just feel that the result of all five of those sentences will be the same: On Monday, a driving test will be taken by me.
    OK, but you could say that about "A driving test will be taken by me on Monday", and I don't think you would say that that conveys exactly the same meaning and/or is as natural as "I'm taking my driving test on Monday".

    My own feeling is that, in this particular example, there is little practical difference in meaning between the first four. However, the fifth, I will take my driving test on Monday seems to be different. I think that there is here an assertion of certainty, determination ans/or of volition that is not present in the others. If the idea is is simply to report on the the future taking of the test, then I think that few native speakers would produce that.

    I feel that many course books place too much emphasis on a difference between the various ways of expressing the future; frequently it is possible to use any one of two, three or more ways, with little pratical difference. However, this is not always the case, as I showed in #11 , and my own feeling is that to say there is 'rarely' a difference between them is to mislead learners.

  5. #15
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    OK, but you could say that about "A driving test will be taken by me on Monday", and I don't think you would say that that conveys exactly the same meaning and/or is as natural as "I'm taking my driving test on Monday".
    OK, my final word on this topic (so I'm back to my promise) is this: The only difference in meaning that I see between those two quoted sentences is that the first one doesn't specify that it's my driving test I'm taking. However, seeing as (unless you're committing fraud), you can't take someone else's driving test, I don't think that particular omission is a problem.

    As far as the likelihood/determination/volition etc of the event actually happening is concerned, I find no difference at all.

    I'm more than willing to concede though that so many other native speakers do hear/read this nuance, that it must be me who is missing something.

  6. #16
    SoothingDave is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    However, the fifth,
    I will take my driving test on Monday seems to be different. I think that there is here an assertion of certainty, determination ans/or of volition that is not present in the others. If the idea is is simply to report on the the future taking of the test, then I think that few native speakers would produce that.
    I think it depends on how much emphasis is placed on the "will." "I WILL pay my taxes on Monday" vs. "I'll pay my taxes on Monday."

    The first one, to me, has a strong volition. The second, not really.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I think it depends on how much emphasis is placed on the "will." "I WILL pay my taxes on Monday" vs. "I'll pay my taxes on Monday."

    The first one, to me, has a strong volition. The second, not really.
    I agree, but I feel that the second has more of an idea of volition than, for example, "I'm paying my taxes on Monday".

    Let's lok at a different example:

    Fred: I need to go now: The airport bus leaves at ten.
    Bill: Oh, don't worry, I .......... take you.

    Several forms can be used, but, for me, "I'm taking you" and "I'm going to take" you' suggest that Bill has already made the decision (or somebody else has made it for him), while "I'll take you" suggests an offer made at the time, the 'instant decision' of some books. All three (and other) forms are possible, and, unless Fred declines, all result in Bill taking Fred to the airport. That does'mean that they have exactly the same meaning.

  8. #18
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Talking about the future

    Quote Originally Posted by mafto View Post
    I have seen in many books rules about using particular tenses and expressions for describing particular circumstances related to the future.
    E.g. the future simple when the decision is done at the time of speaking or when it is an offer (I will help you) etc.
    'Going to' when I decided before, the present continuous for thing that have been arranged before the time of speaking, the present simple for talking about events that are independent from the speaker's will - timetables, schedules, programmes...
    OK, but that's just about what particular expressions emphasise, isn't it?
    To what extent are we forced to keep to these rules? E.g. if I'm talking about a film tonight...can I say "It will start at 9 o'clock"?

    I'm a bit confused by many exercises in students books in which it seems that it is incorrect to use some other tenses and expressions.

    Thank you for helping me :)
    It rather depends what you mean by '(in)correct'. If you mean 'Would it be ungrammatical to say "the film will start at 9:00"?', the answer is, of course, it would not. The sentence is structurally flawless. If, however, you mean 'would it be natural/idiomatic to say it?', the answer is 'no'.

    Since, however, the use of 'will' here would hardly seriously impede communication, many natives, even teachers, will simply not bother to comment on it. Nevertheless you ought to be aware that, no matter how convincing your pronunciation may be, if you persistently use 'will' for this kind of sentence (as for stating planned future actions instead of 'be going to' or the present progressive), you will forever mark yourself out as a learner!
    Last edited by philo2009; 18-Apr-2012 at 07:52.

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