Could anyone answer this then explain correctly?

Choose : Be careful, you ..... your hand with that knife .

will cut / are going to cut /are cutting

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  • 1
    They're all right. – Dan Bron Feb 23 '15 at 15:38
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    why don't you show us that you at least TRIED to do your own homework. – andi Feb 23 '15 at 15:38
  • But when it comes to a test which one should I choose? – user111273 Feb 23 '15 at 15:39
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    The "answer" you will cut your hand sounds too formal, all the choices given should have the contracted form, because in speech we tend to say e.g. "I'll take care of it, I promise."; "Be careful, you'll cut your hand"; "Careful! You're cutting yourself"; and "Be careful, you're going to cut yourself/your hand" – Mari-Lou A Feb 23 '15 at 16:45
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    Texts (unfortunately) often teach that "going to" is used for the "planned" future, while "will" is used for the unplanned. As a teacher, I'm painfully sure this is why "going to" can't be seen as right. – Jim Reynolds Feb 24 '15 at 22:18

If the knife-wielder is actually in the process of cutting into her hand and somehow hasn't noticed, then:

Be careful, you are cutting your hand!

is correct, using the present progressive for an action in progress.

However, if the speaker is predicting what will happen if the knife-wielder is not more careful, then both of the following are possible and common:

  1. Be careful, you are going to cut your hand!

  2. Be careful, you will cut your hand!

A subtle difference in the two forms may be detected. The going to prediction (1) is more of an immediate warning that the knife-holder is on the point of self-harm. The will prediction is more of a general warning that the knife-holder is becoming at risk of self-harm through increasingly careless movements.

There is evidence for the above assertion in the fact that you can replace Be careful with Look out in the going to prediction, but it sounds suspect in the will prediction.

Look out! You're going to cut your hand!

?Look out! You will cut your hand!

  • 1
    This is like the example that Bob Binnick used in his paper "Will and Be Going To", in CLS. His was Watch out! That rock ...... fall! on a hiking trail, and of course will is ridiculous here; it hasta be gonna. – John Lawler Feb 23 '15 at 17:04
  • It's obvious that the present would be denoted in the example present progressive, but we use the present progressive to talk about the future as well as an action in progress. (I am going home after work. I am flying to London [next week].) – Jim Reynolds Feb 25 '15 at 4:40
  • @Jim, My sympathies are with the OP if one of his or her English teachers really believes that the progressive form is the correct choice in this context. – Shoe Feb 25 '15 at 8:57
  • Yes, and a teacher does believe just that, according to the OP's comment. I made that comment only because many English learners, even many at higher levels, are surprised to hear that it can indicate the future. It often gets drilled in: Subject is -ing RIGHT NOW. It's so frustrating I'm cutting my whiteboard hand (next week) in protest. – Jim Reynolds Feb 25 '15 at 9:09

Be careful, you will cut your hand looks fine to me.

  • On EL&U we encouraged users to provide justification/rationale for their answers, and ideally references to external authorities. – Dan Bron Feb 23 '15 at 20:11

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