English is not my native language, so I've question about using the future tense. Which is correct:

Next time I'll need <something>, I'll ...


Next time I need <something>, I'll ...

Are they different at all? What is the difference? I can't feel any difference. Which one is correct?

  • 1
    The first one is wrong.
    – tchrist
    Sep 23, 2014 at 1:16

3 Answers 3


Next time I need , I'll ... is correct.

If you write Next time I'll need , I'll ..., you're saying that when you have a future meed, you'll ... - but you're not giving a specific time.

For instance, next time I need live bait, I'm going to buy red worms. I'm probably not going fishing until next year, but I know that I'll need live bait. Therefore the next time "I'll need live bait" is right now. The next time "I need live bait" is when I'm heading out with a fish pole. I need to buy live bait then, not now.

  • This is going to take a while to process. :) Re-reading and re-reading. :)
    – bodacydo
    Sep 22, 2014 at 22:56

If you expand the sentences you get:

  1. Next time I will need something, I will

  2. Next time I need something, I will

Sentence 1. doesn't make much sense, does it?

  • 2
    They both make sense...
    – bodacydo
    Sep 22, 2014 at 22:50
  • Second @bodacydo - you can say for instance, "Next time I'll need brain surgery, if I come to ELU for English suggestions." This is not the same as "The next time I need brain surgery, I hope my surgeon can read the manual ..." Sep 22, 2014 at 22:54
  • @HowardPautz - your example doesn't actually support the contradiction of 5arx's answer. Sep 23, 2014 at 1:02
  • @medica - I'm unsure why you think so, but please do clarify what you see as errant in my comment. Sep 23, 2014 at 1:05
  • Your construction does not parallel what you purport it does. Next time I'll need brain surgery if is very different from Next time I'll need brain surgery I'll... Sep 23, 2014 at 1:07

next time I need [something], I'll...

next time [clause], [sentence]

"Next time..." is a conditional clause that describes the sentence's verb happens. the clause itself doesn't necessarily happen, and you are not implying that it is going to happen.

that is why you can't use "will".

you could also think of it as a cause and effect clause.

like in math? P->Q? but not Q <-P

if [I need something] then [I'll...].

you aren't saying you will need something, you are saying what you will do IF you need something.

About the Helper Verb "Will":

if you know Spanish or a similar language, it's kind of like the subjunctive. Using "will" or "I'll" implies that something is going happen. You know that it's going to happen.

If you use "will" while you are not completely sure, it implies that you believe that something will happen.

In your example, you aren't saying you "will need " you're saying "if you need [something]"


I'll... < = this happens in the future for sure.


I'll probably... < = CORRECT, likely to happen, you believe it will happen.

I'll might... < = WRONG, may or may not happen.


If the sky falls tomorrow, I'll hide under my bed. < = if the sky falls

The sky will fall tomorrow, I'll hide under my bed. < = when the sky falls


Next Time we get pizza, I'll get cheese. < = might happen

Next week we'll get pizza, I'll get cheese. < = this is definitely going to happen.

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