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Why can we use the following statement when we mean future events?

What time do you get there?

Or should we rather say:

What time will you get there?

Is there a difference?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The present tense can express the future when plans are being discussed, particularly in reference to timetables, routines and schedules. For that reason it is sometimes called the ‘diary future’.

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So in the case above what is the difference between the two? –  user17857 Jan 23 '12 at 12:59
    
@Mohammad: The difference is in the occasion on which each would be used. If you were discussing a business colleague's travel plans you would use the first. If you wre asking a friend how long it would take him to drive to his parent's home you would use the second. –  Barrie England Jan 23 '12 at 13:10
    
Thank you. What if that friend was headed to his office? Should we use the first or the second? –  user17857 Jan 23 '12 at 13:13
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The first one, as Barrie has indicated, can be interpreted as a future plan, but it can also be interpreted as a question about a repeated action (e.g., What time do you get to the station each morning.) The question with will doesn't have this alternate interpretation. –  Brett Reynolds Jan 23 '12 at 14:18
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+1 for term "diary future" –  MετάEd Jan 23 '12 at 15:18
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we use the present simple for future only to talk generally about formal actions that no longer are fixed

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