Tuesday, August 5, 2014

When... (future)

When we talk about the future using “when + verb”, it’s not necessary to use “will”… we simply use the simple tense of the verb.

1.      When I am rich, I’m going to buy a little beach house somewhere along the coast in Ceará.

2.      Have you thought about what you would like to do one day when you retire? Would you like to take up a new hobby, invest in a business… or just relax?

3.      When my daughter is a teenager I will need to get some good parenting advice from others who have “been there before”. I have another 9 years more or less to prepare myself.

4.      One day when I visit Rio de Janeiro, I’d like to experience all of the tourist attractions. What would you say is the number one thing that everyone has to do when they go to Rio?

5.      When I get my Brazilian Citizenship, I will be able to travel throughout South America without a passport. If only the traveling itself weren’t so expensive!

6.      When we have a new governor and mayor, do you think they will do a better job than the current ones?

7.      It will be a sad day when Nelson Mandela dies. He is 94 years old this year… and “time waits for no man”. When you die, what would you like people to say or think about you? (This example was written months before his death)

8.  When I get a credit card I will be able to accumulate miles. The more I spend, the more miles I’ll get!


  1. really useful and interesting, thanks!
    A question: does this form (when + verb) can be used also in a formal context?

    1. Hi Marco!
      Yes... it is the only way to use it. For example, we never say, "When I will go to Rio..." - only, "When I go to Rio...". It is just correct grammar (to not use will), whether in formal or informal contexts.

  2. Does this rule aply to ~by the time, as well?

  3. Hey Sergio,
    What I'm trying to show is that we don't use "will" at the beginning of the sentence... Only in the 2nd clause or part of the sentence.

    "By the time" is a more interesting case. I should prepare a lesson just for that. When we use "when" as I have outlined in this post, our perspective is looking from the present into the future. When we use the phrase, "by the time", we are looking at a hypothetical situation of something already being a reality or already having happened (from the perspective of the future looking back to now). We can also use that phrase in other ways... For example, "By this time next year...", "By 2016...", etc.

    Also the grammar is a little different... There are more possibilities depending on the context:

    Will + Continuous: "By this time next year I will be lying on a beach in Maui."
    Future simple: "By this time next year I will be less stressed."
    Future perfect: "By this time next year I will have bought a new car."

    This last case is a very common way to express things that we are certain will have happened. We talk as if we have already done or achieved something in the future. We are confident about our plans or what the results by this time next year will be.


  4. What does “it’s not necessary” mean?

    1. If you are referring to my statement in the initial explanation of the grammar, what I should have said is that not only is it not necessary in the first clause or part of a sentence... but also not possible. The auxiliary, "will" is use in the second part of the sentence. The reason I made this obvious observation is that my Brazilian students often erroneously use "will" at the beginning of a sentence (When I will go to Rio...), when neither is the future simple used in Portuguese at the beginning of the sentence in the equivalent translation (Quando eu for para Rio...).

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