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Future Time Clauses in English–Taking About When a Future Event Will Happen

Future Time Clauses in English–Taking About When a Future Event Will Happen

Future time clauses talk about when a future event will happen. For this future event to happen, something else has to happen first or at the same time. In this posting I talk about clauses, independent and dependent, and specifically, time clauses. I include many example sentences on how to use future time clauses correctly. The download at the end will give your more practice using future time clauses.

Let us look at clauses first, and then future time clauses.

What is a clause?

A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb. A sentence also contains a subject and a verb. However, not every clause is a sentence. Some clauses are called independent clauses. An independent contains a subject and a verb, and is a complete thought. It can stand alone. It could be a complete sentence. Here is an example of an independent clause: I will cook dinner. This makes sense and could be a complete sentence.

Some clauses contain a subject and a verb but are not complete thoughts. They cannot stand alone. These are called dependent clauses. Here is an example: when I get home. Dependent clauses need to be attached to an independent clause in order to make sense. They are dependent on the independent clause for meaning. If we combine our dependent and independent clause, we will have a good sentence: When I get home, I will cook dinner.

What is a time clause?

A time clause tells when something will happen. A time clause is always a dependent clause. A future time clause talks about when a future event will happen.

Using future time clauses

Future time clauses tell us when an event will happen. However, in order for the future event to happen, another future event must happen first. Look at this sentence: When the sun comes out, he will play golf. First the sun has to come out. When that happens, he will play golf. When the sun comes out is the future time clause. Note that the future time clause (the dependent clause) is written in the simple present. The main clause, or the independent clause, is written in the simple future. This is not logical, because neither event has happened yet. Some other languages use the simple future for both clauses, but English does not. As you probably know, English is not always logical.

Words introducing future time clauses

Here are some common words which introduce future time clauses: when, after, as soon as, before, until, and the minute that. The future time clause may come before or after the main clause. The meaning is the same. When the future time clause comes first, we put a comma (,) between it and the main clause. When it comes last, we do not. Remember, though, no matter where you place the future time clause, write it in the simple present. Write the main clause in the simple future. Look at the following examples.

  1. When I finish the laundry, I’ll go shopping.  I’ll go shopping when I finish the laundry
  2. After we eat dinner, we’ll go to a movie.  We’ll go to a movie after we eat dinner. 
  3. As soon as my brother graduates, he’ll look for a job. My brother will look for a job as soon as he graduates. 
  4. Before she goes on vacation, she is going to paint her house. She is going to paint her house before she goes on vacation. 
  5. Until I get a raise, I won’t travel abroad. I won’t travel abroad until I get a raise.   Note the negative.
  6. The minute that her plane lands, she will call me.  She will call me the minute that her plane lands. 

Future time clauses for events that will happen at the same time

We can use future time clauses to talk about future events that will happen at the same time. Again, the future time clause is written in the simple present. The main clause uses the simple future. We usually introduce the future time clause for tto events that will happen at the same time with the word while. Here are some examples.

  1. While dinner is cooking, I will pay some bills. I will pay some bills while dinner is cooking.   Note that neither event has happened yet. When they do happen, however, it will be a t the same time.
  2. While Bob is washing the car, Mary will go to her yoga class. Mary will go to her yoga class while Bob is washing the car.  Again, neither event has happened yet. In the future when they do happen, it will be at the same time.

You now know that a clause contains a subject and a verb. An independent clause can stand alone, but a dependent clause cannot. Future time clauses are dependent clauses. A future time clause tells when a future event will happen, provided that something else happens first. Future time clauses are written in the simple present tense. Main clauses use the simple future tense. The future time clause can come before or after the main clause. Some common words to introduce future time clauses are: when, after, as soon as, before, until, and the minute that. We can also use future time clauses to discuss two future events that will happen at the same time. When this happens, introduce the future time clause with the word while.

You can download the practice sheet now!

 

Idioms of the day

  1. a dime a dozen–This means that something is very common. There are many of them. There are so many reality shows on TV. Really, they’re a dime a dozen these days. 
  2. six of one, half dozen of the other–This means that two things or options are the same, or the results of two things are the same. These is little or no difference between the two. Both Target and Walmart have good prices on cosmetics. You could shop at either one. It really doesn’t matter. It’s six of one, half dozen of the other. 

 

 

 

 

Misty Davidson
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