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    #1

    Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    Question about Conditional.

    1, If you be late for the meeting, please call me.
    2, If you
    are late for the meeting, please call me.
    3, If you
    will be late for the meeting, please call me.

    Grammatically speaking, the sentence (1) is perfectly correct, but it sounds literal, too formal or classical maybe.
    In the Modern English, the sentence (2) is generally used for the meaning of (1), even though "you ARE" is not a conditional mood but is used to that meaning.

    In usual grammar books, only (1) and (2) are explained as correct expressions.
    Using "will" in a conditional clause meaning future, those books say "present sense is used without WILL, except it means the WILL of the subject"
    Example: "If you will (=mean to, really want to) do it, I won't stop any more."

    However, in business English, the sentence (3) is very often seen.
    Actually, when (3) is used, it might sound even rude to use (2).

    Please explain the difference between these sentences.

    Thank you in advance.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    Quote Originally Posted by KEN JPN View Post
    1, If you be late for the meeting, please call me.
    2, If you
    are late for the meeting, please call me.
    3, If you
    will be late for the meeting, please call me.

    Grammatically speaking, the sentence (1) is perfectly correct,
    I do not agree that it is correct. For a minority of speakers of BrE, the subjunctive form 'be' is natural in a present hypothetical condition, such as ''If that be so", but not in a conditional sentence about a real future possibility.
    In the Modern English, the sentence (2) is generally used for the meaning of (1), even though "you ARE" is not a conditional subjunctive mood [...]
    However, in business English, the sentence (3) is very often seen.
    I doubt if you would ever see sentence #3 in business English. You might see examples of will (= BE willing) in such sentences as , "If you will guarantee delivery by the end of the month, I will confirm the order".

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    #3

    Re: Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    Thank you for your prompt reply.
    Let me confirm your opinion.
    So, you mean, Sentence #3 is wrong, and #1 is used for minority of British English speakers, #2 is usual, right?

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    #4

    Re: Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    1 is archaic. You will find it hard to come across speakers using it today. The example 5jj gave was a special case and speakers who use it would not use If he be late.

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    #5

    Re: Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    What do you think about the following opinion (by another UK English native)?

    >If you are to call when you "are late" that means that you are to call after the fact: after you have arrived late.

    >If you are to call when you "will be late" that is when you become aware that, at some point in the future, you will arrive late.

    So,
    1, If you are late for the meeting tomorrow, call me.
    = If you have been late for the meeting, call me.
    (Then, it should mean, "I" am not at the meeting and to be reported the fact "you" are late.)

    2, If you will be late for the meeting tomorrow, call me.
    = If it seems that you will be late for the meeting tomorrow, call me.
    (Then, "I" am waiting for "you" to arrive the the meeting.)

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Grammar Question: Conditional / Future

    Whilst I agree that "If you be late ..." sounds unnatural (however archaically correct it might be), I would like to point out that we regularly use/hear "Should you be late, there will be serious repercussions" or even "Were you to be late, they would not be impressed".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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