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Thread: Explaining future tense to students.

  1. #1

    Default Explaining future tense to students.

    I've explained the basics of future tense (will/be + going to) to my kids and they got it pretty well. What's causing them trouble is the following patterns in the textbook:

    "Please call me when you arrive at the hotel" - why isn't it "when you will arrive at the hotel"?

    "If it rains tomorrow we will stay home" - why isn't it "If it will rain tomorrow"? And why isn't it "we stay home"?

    Basically it seems to them like will is used completely arbitrarily despite both examples being apparently in the future. There's a "rule" in the textbook that the JTEs are using to explain it but they don't really get it and thus neither do the kids.

    The closest I can get is that it depends on the main verb of the sentence. In the example above the main action (please call me) takes place at the same time as the when~ qualifier. Call me when you arrive, not now. Whereas in another example - "Do you know when chris will come back?" - the main action (do you know) is taking place at a different time from the when~ qualifier. Do you know now about something in the future?

    That still leaves me stuck on explaining "if" though. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Explaining future tense to students.

    Simple, tense does not have to agree in English. At all.

    Tense is a local phenomenon, in all your examples you are describing an event which is not relative to where you are right now. It does not need to be placed in time. Your Chris explanation is accurate because it is relative to where you are now.

    For instance.
    Do you know when the concert starts.
    Do you know when the concert will start.

    The first is a general statement, the second is clearly coordinated to the current time.

    As for if, you explanation covers it perfectly btw. With if you have to remember that if s+v, is the subordinate to the second s+v structure.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Explaining future tense to students.

    Linguistically, English doesn't have a morphological future tense - it's a mood. (In that the verbs don't conjugate into a tense, but use a secondary verb/adverb/noun to indicate future meaning.) Which is generally where native speaker English education falls off the rails.

    As far as the If-then goes, as long as there is a aux. verb (will or shall), adverb (ie soon, later), noun (ie tomorrow, next week) then it is future mood. Also, there is a logical progression that can imply future, as in: "When you get home, please call me." In that case, I'd say the 'call' is future mood due to logical progression. (But I'm not 100% sure that the mood works that way.) So "If it rains tomorrow" and "If it will rain tomorrow" are both future mood due to the inclusion of tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: Explaining future tense to students.

    Webstaa, your if explanation is wrong. The IF [s+v B], [S+V A] formula is very simple. The Beta phrase is subordinate to the tense control of the primary sentence. For instance:

    If it rains, I'm going home. (present mood B, future mood A)
    If it will rain, I'm going home. (future mood B, future mood A)
    If it rained, I'm going home. (past tense B, future mood A)

    The subordinate does not need to coordinate to the primary sentence in any way. That is why I say tense is a local phenomenon. Logical progression actually has far less control in English than ESL textbooks would lead people to believe :P

    Also, please call me is implicitly future mood not because the verb is call, but because the sentence structure is imperative (meaning it must be done at a time AFTER the utterance)
    Quote Originally Posted by Cytrix View Post
    Organising anything with ALTs is like herding cats on catnip

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Explaining future tense to students.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    Webstaa, your if explanation is wrong. The IF [s+v B], [S+V A] formula is very simple. The Beta phrase is subordinate to the tense control of the primary sentence. For instance:

    If it rains, I'm going home. (present mood B, future mood A)
    If it will rain, I'm going home. (future mood B, future mood A)
    If it rained, I'm going home. (past tense B, future mood A)

    The subordinate does not need to coordinate to the primary sentence in any way. That is why I say tense is a local phenomenon. Logical progression actually has far less control in English than ESL textbooks would lead people to believe :P

    Also, please call me is implicitly future mood not because the verb is call, but because the sentence structure is imperative (meaning it must be done at a time AFTER the utterance)
    I didn't follow any of that.

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