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Is it correct to say:

even if only James Bond will benefit from...

or

even if only James Bond benefits from...

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Sep 12 '13 at 14:16

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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Even if is never followed by a future tense. The correct alternative is:

Even if only James Bond benefits from...

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thank you very much! –  Vlad Balmos Jan 15 '12 at 18:52
3  
I agree you can make a case for saying that 'even if' is never followed by 'will' if the main clause itself contains 'will'. Example: "She will not succeed, even if she works from now until Christmas." But using 'will' after 'even if' seems perfectly acceptable in other constructions: "I think you should ahead with your plan, even if it will only benefit James Bond." –  Shoe Jan 15 '12 at 19:33
    
I accept that some of these 3,180,000 written instances in Google Books of even if you will may not exactly match our current context, but I think you're way out on a limb if you think none of them do. Or that any that do are just "bad grammar". –  FumbleFingers Jan 16 '12 at 0:21

I disagree with the (currently) accepted answer. I see nothing wrong with...

Even if only you will benefit, it's worth doing.

In defiance of pedants everywhere, I deny that there's any significant nuance differentiating...

Even if only you benefit, it will be worth doing.

Even if only you benefit, it would be worth doing.

Even if only you will benefit, it's worth doing.

Even if only you will benefit, it'll be worth doing.

Even if only you would benefit, it's worth doing.

Even if only you would benefit, it'll be worth doing.

etc., etc.

...and I certainly see no point in debarring any combination on the grounds that it's somehow "not grammatical". The fact of the matter is all these variations occur, and it would be unlikely even for the speaker to choose one over another to convey some subtle shade of meaning. The possibility of his audience actually apprehending any such subtle distinction is effectively zero.

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1  
Speaking for pedants everywhere, I feel fully defied. But you mispronounced pedant. –  John Lawler Jan 16 '12 at 0:50
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Dang! I thought only my cat could hear me stomping around and ranting! –  FumbleFingers Jan 16 '12 at 0:53
1  
I agree with FF here. Why are people so determined to constrain expression with silly, arbitrary rules? Even if someone finds multiple citations to the contrary, I will continue to feel free to finish this type of sentence with a future tense. Keep on fighting the good fight, FumbleFingers! –  Robusto Feb 3 '12 at 16:20
    
@Robusto: And even if no-one else will, I'll upvote your comment! (plus I freely admit I upvoted before typing this comment! :) –  FumbleFingers Feb 5 '12 at 0:52

Hypothetical clauses that are headed by if (including even if) may only use the modal auxiliary verb will (or won't) in its Deontic sense of 'intend, be willing', and not in its Epistemic sense of predicted necessity.

  • Frank won't hand in his homework. (epistemic, a prediction)
  • If Frank won't hand in his homework, he'll tell you. (deontic, willing)
  • If Frank doesn't hand in his homework, there'll be trouble. (no modal, future)

Since there is no future tense in English, futurity is inferred rather than marked per se. Common constructions include be going to, the present tense (as here), or some modal auxiliary (will, may, can, should, must, etc).

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2  
If there’s no future tense in English, then what the devil do you call this? A future BLAHBLAH? I don’t think so. Calling it the future is perfectly fine. People are way too intense about ‘tense’ ≣ ‘one-word inflection’ around here. It smacks of Humpty-Dumptyism. What’s next? Pretending that present indicative and present subjunctive are the same tense, just different moods? That gets no one anywhere. –  tchrist Jan 15 '12 at 23:09
    
There are exceptions to this rule; when the if-clause is still in the future when viewed from the perspective of the main clause. From the internet: "If you will not be able to attend a class, let the instructor know as soon as possible." –  Peter Shor Jan 16 '12 at 0:36
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@tchrist: I just like to use terminology correctly, just as many of us like to use English grammar correctly. There is a precise sense of tense, as you know, and then there is the use of tense that means "some feature of a word" and leads to usages like the passive tense, the subjunctive tense, the future perfect tense, the conditional tense, and even the plural tense. That's not helpful; you may not like the way I use the words, but I will continue to use them this way because it's the right professional way. –  John Lawler Jan 16 '12 at 0:46
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Thousands of textbooks are spattered with frog guts, then. Too bad. I don't quite understand why terminology makes you so mad. But then there's lots of things I don't understand. Also too bad. If you really have questions, and don't just want to ask rhetorical questions, you are free to do so. –  John Lawler Jan 16 '12 at 3:32
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Exactly. Many (most?) of our readers here are English learners, not native speakers, and they actually need the facts about the language. Which they get, in any decent ESL classroom. –  John Lawler Jan 16 '12 at 15:19

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