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My question relates to these questions :

What is the common way in English (and American English) to say about many related events that can happen due to some condition:

I suppose if this gadget [will be] packed in cardboard box there [will be] less chances that the package [will be] stopped at customs for any additional inspection of its contents.

or even:

I suppose if this gadget [will be] packed in cardboard box there [will be] less chances that the package [will be] stopped at customs for any additional inspection so there [will be] no delay in delivery.

Note: I used "[will be]" to depict that action will occur in a future - I understand that it is incorrect.

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In your particular example, you would use is packed, but then all the others can be will be - that is a correct usage. –  Rory Alsop Feb 7 '13 at 9:18
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The verb(s) in the 'if' clause should be in the present tense, but the others can be in the future. –  Peter Shor Feb 7 '13 at 11:25
    
I agree with @Rory. But (1) we would usually say “packed in a cardboard box” (or “… if these gadgets are packed in cardboard boxes”), and (2) I believe that “less chance” is more common than “less chances”. –  Scott Feb 12 '13 at 2:58

3 Answers 3

Your sentences are conditional and the preferred verb form is the subjunctive:

I suppose if this gadget were packed in a cardboard box, there would be less chance that the package would be stopped at customs for any additional inspection, so there would be no delay in delivery.

If you want to emphasize the future possibility of such packing, you could say

I suppose if this gadget were to be packed in a cardboard box, there would be less chance that the package would be stopped at customs for any additional inspection, so there would be no delay in delivery.

If you want to reduce the repetion of the verb form, you could switch to gerunds:

I suppose if this gadget were to be packed in a cardboard box, there would be less chance of the package being stopped at customs for any additional inspection, thus avoiding delay in delivery.

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First of all, you shouldn't use will in the if conditional clause, because that would mean that you're talking about a case where the gadget was willing to be packed in a cardboard box (as explained in my response to the third question above), and that's clearly not what you want to say.

If you just use the present tense -- is packed -- in the if clause, then you mean that:

  • provided that the gadget gets packed in a cardboard box, certain results are likely.

and that seems right.

Likelihood, however, is a modal notion (modals refer to possibility, probability, and necessity), so a modal auxiliary like will seems appropriate for the conclusion clauses. Or might, or could, or any other modal that makes sense; will is not "the future tense"; it's just another modal auxiliary verb.

BTW, chance is a mass noun, and therefore singular, in the clause

  • there will be less chance that S.
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Somewhere down the line, will has gained widely accepted usage, proscriptively even, as a modal aux. Where there's a will, there's a way? –  livresque Feb 19 '13 at 18:08

The examples you provided are in correct English, you can use these sentences if you want to. It isn't all too common but it is correct English nonetheless.

All the instances of will be in this sentence have different meanings. You can only leave it out if it maintains the meaning, or keeps referring to the same part of the sentence (in this case it doesn't). Take for example your first sentence: the first will be refers to the packing, the second refers to less chance and the last one refers to being stopped at customs. Thus, you cannot word it differently.

Also, the first will be is correct if you let it be packed by someone else and you are asking whether or not you should let it be packed in another way.

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