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I want to refer to the future. When someone asks me: "what are you going to do when you have a chance to look at [something]?". How should I reply?

Basically, the question is which one is correct (or none):

It will depend on what I see

or

It will depend on what I will see

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Definately the former. The complete thought here is: It will depend on what I see [when I look at it]. –  Jim Apr 4 '12 at 22:15
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You certainly don't want "future tense" for "see". Many if not most native speakers wouldn't use it for "depend" either...

It depends on what I see.

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The "it will depend on" part creates a hypothetical environment, like an if-clause, and the same rules about deontic vs epistemic usages of modal will apply. –  John Lawler Apr 4 '12 at 22:46
    
@John Lawler: You are not wrong. But I think one could equally say that the same rules...**would* apply* (should anyone wish to check), or that those same rules do apply (now and for the immediately-foreseeable future). –  FumbleFingers Apr 5 '12 at 2:59
    
The italics just aren't as noticeable as they ought to be in comments, alas. What I said was "the same rules about deontic vs epistemic usages of modal will ... apply". Of course, the intonation and pause before apply didn't show up, and you couldn't tell that will was being mentioned instead of used. I agree, do apply would be unambiguous, but my whole point was that this is an unexceptionable instance of a well-documented phenomenon and I wished to avoid sounding like a stressed do sounds. As you can see, I write like I talk, and vice versa. –  John Lawler Apr 5 '12 at 13:58
    
@John: I know I'm not as well-versed in the terminology as you, but I think I understand deontic as having some element of "attitude" (volition/obligation/etc.), where epistemic is just about facts/probabilities. So I took you italicisation to be a "parenthetical joke" deliberately toying with the distinction (the rules will apply, because I hereby decree it to be so! :). –  FumbleFingers Apr 5 '12 at 14:17
    
No, it was just a citation. Would that I were that clever. My unconscious may be, but I rarely notice it until too late. –  John Lawler Apr 5 '12 at 14:52
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