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I was trying to say the following and got bewildered with the different choices.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am finished reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I have finished reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am done reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I finish reading it.

I am not sure which one to pick. I am confused with the exact meanings of these various choices. Could someone also shed some light on what meanings the different tenses convey in a context like this.

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2 Answers 2

All your four choices are acceptable in daily use. But technically, cakes are done and people are finished. Also, in proper English usage, I have finished is preferred over I am finished.

So, in that sense only the following (from your list) are correct:

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I have finished reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I finish reading it.

You could also use the following alternatives:

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I finish it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I will finish it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am through with it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am through reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I am through with reading it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I complete it.

I have "To Kill a Mockingbird" on my list. I will write you about it when I have completed it.

Also, if what you are writing is not colloquial, you should write I will write to you instead of I will write you.

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4  
I question '. . . when I will finish it'. It's a construction normally found in foreign learners of English. –  Barrie England Jun 15 '12 at 20:10
1  
Michael Swan's Practical English Usage says that "write to me" is more common than "write me" in standard British English, whereas the latter is standard in American English. Also, I agree with Barry: "will" is not used in time clauses. –  Giorgiomastrò Jun 15 '12 at 20:25
    
Myself, I would regard I am through with reading it as even more colloquial than I am done reading it. At this level, the differences are more regional than grammatical. –  TimLymington Jun 15 '12 at 23:31

You cannot use future/future in English if–when sentences. So, you cannot say "I will write to you about it when I will finish it. "

In this sentence, the first verb is in the simple future (will write). Your second verb must be in the present tense. You can use either the present perfect (have finished) or present simple (finish).

Google "English if/when sentences". There are formulas to use that work every time.

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This seems like it should be a comment to user20934's answer, rather than an answer to Noah's question. -1. –  user867 Oct 24 '12 at 0:29

protected by tchrist Jul 3 at 21:07

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